I am delighted to report that my final parent coffee morning of the school year was my best-attended yet – we saw some new faces and some returning faces too. But my sadness was that two mums, when I asked what they were doing for the summer, separately replied that they would be ‘trying to survive’ and ‘breathing’. This brought home to me, with a sobering thud, just how tough the six weeks holiday is for some families; especially those with no respite and with children who have behaviour difficulties. For them, school represents respite, it is their only break in their challenging lives and it gives life back to them. I heard about one child who is so rigid in his routine that for the first 2 weeks of the holidays, that his parents have to drive passed school everyday to reassure him that it is really closed and empty. So when the staff wished us all a good summer, that may not be possible for many familes, whose only goal is survival.
For the first time that I am aware of, Joshua’s school is offering some additional assistance in the holidays, by offering a fortnight of summer school. So after all his farewells, he will actually be back at school on Tuesday, from 10am until 2pm, for swimming and other activities that I signed him up for. Joshua is only going there once as we will be away on holiday for the second week of summer school. That is a great idea, for the parents and we are grateful for the staff who are prepared to give up some of their summer holidays to support this service. I am sure Joshua will be happy enough to return on Tuesday but it may well confuse some children even further, being told that it is school holidays then returning to school, but not to the classroom or their normal teachers.
The school staff use their long summer off to re-charge their batteries, but there will clearly be many parents who are already counting the days until the school routine returns in September. I feel fortunate that I do not feel any anxiety towards the school holidays this year, as Joshua needs to re-charge his batteries too and I have holiday plans – we have got a fortnight away booked in soon – and childcare in place for when I am at work. But based on the opinions shared around the room yesterday, I may well be unusual in my outlook towards the summer. So, here’s to survival and keeping breathing!!