THE BLOG

It's Time to Give Young People a Break!

22/05/2015 18:24 BST | Updated 21/05/2016 10:59 BST

We're only a couple of weeks into the exam period and already there's been a flurry of news stories around how exam pressures are affecting young people and their parents. It's true; as a teacher I'm the first to admit the pressure on young people to achieve perfect grades is enormous.

However, what I have found most concerning is that young people are now taking these pressures into their school holidays too.

Looking back on our own school days, we all remember that moment when the bell rings on the last day of term and the excitement that follows about the forthcoming six weeks of freedom. But what a new study has brought to light today is that school holidays may have lost their fun factor.

Students need to learn to take a break

It's damning to see that young people are not making full use of their summer holidays, especially as the long break often holds the most defining moments in their development outside of education.

I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging today's youth with education, but what we mustn't forget is the importance of balance. Just like the rest of us, young people need time to switch off too. The study out today proves teenagers are spending their summer racked with guilt about not studying as much as they feel they should.

As teachers and parents, this is a concern we should be taking seriously. The summer holidays are there for young people to replenish their minds, develop skills that can't be taught in the classroom and most importantly, have fun.

How can we give young people a break to remember?

Teenagers can be expensive to keep occupied over the long break. New research shows that the summer holidays can cost parents upwards of £500 per teen. This money is likely to fuel Nandos meals and cinema trips, both of which are only momentary solutions to the longer term challenge of keeping young people busy, with the research also revealing teens expect to run out of things to do just 18 days into the break!

Instead we need to work with them to ensure they're not only planning their weeks off effectively but that they're filling them with new challenges and opportunities that offer a point of difference from normal weekend activities.

Here are 5 ideas on how young people can keep themselves busy, develop new interests, grow in confidence, have fun and ensure they're stimulated and ready to engage with education come the start of the new term:

1. Get involved in the local community:

Getting involved in the community provides a brilliant opportunity to meet new people, try new activities, learn a new trade and keep busy. The outside world offers opportunities to teach young people a new skill set that they can't necessarily learn in the classroom, from networking to presenting, to planning and using initiative.

2. Take up a new sport or join a club:

Group activities are not only great fun but a chance to interact with people you wouldn't normally mix with at school, plus you'll learn new skills that you can take back into the classroom

3. Sign up to a youth programme:

There are some fantastic youth programmes available during the school holidays, many of which are really cost effective too. Last summer I was fortunate enough to be a team leader on National Citizen Service, the country's flagship youth programme, which meant I was able to witness teenagers experiencing massive leaps in their personal confidence first hand. From challenging themselves through activities like kayaking and rock climbing, to developing their own projects to benefit the local community, the growth in character and confidence was astonishing.

4. Get a part time job:

A summer job is a great first step to learning how to manage your own money and to develop a sense of responsibility. It doesn't need to be a huge commitment either - even an evening of babysitting or a spot of gardening for an elderly relative can really help to develop a sense of work ethic and understanding of other's needs.

5. Plan an excursion with friends:

It can be daunting to join a new club on your own for the first time. Instead if there's an adventure or challenge that interest's your teenager, why not encourage them to plan a trip for their group of friends instead helping to develop organisation skills, initiative and communication.

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