How School Holidays Strengthen Students Psychologically
It is an understatement to say that 2020 has been a particularly intense year. With the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, this will not be a year soon forgotten. The events of the year have taken a toll on people of all ages. Primary school children have faced some particular anxiety.
Coronavirus: the defining element of 2020
As we have noted, COVID-19 has caused a great deal of anxiety this year. This is after seeing levels of anxiety increasing steadily over the past several decades.
One of the factors in coping with anxiety has been people’s emotional intelligence. Being able to process all the uncertainty requires certain levels of fortitude. With the first international lockdown, there were definite increases in stress and anxiety levels.
The lockdown was not a vacation
All this is to say that the lockdown was not a holiday. For many, it was not relaxing but a period of worry. It was a tense time for a number of people of all ages. Many adults faced severe uncertainty with regards their income. For children the disruption caused a great deal of insecurity.
For many children, the loss of a regular routine was particularly stressful.
The levels of reported worry increased across countries and demographics for children. There is even concern of what the lasting effects might be.
But children are very resilient. Children in a loving and caring environment naturally have less anxiety. Taking the time to have a good holiday will be very helpful. They will be back to their normal selves in no time. And the refreshing aspect of this December break will help them prepare for next year.
The psychological benefits of holidays have long been documented
The advantages of having a good holiday are well known. Studies have confirmed these holiday benefits. Holidays break the stress cycle. This gives the body a chance to recuperate after an intense season of work. It is also a chance for the mind to rest and have fun.
For adults, the positive results of taking paid vacation days are documented. Taking paid vacation days results in better overall life satisfaction. Even physical health was found to improve for those who regularly took holidays. Current challenges can be dealt with from a better perspective thanks to vacations. Enjoying positive experiences and having joyful memories adds to your happiness, even long afterwards.
Skipping a holiday for just one year increased the risk of heart disease in men. Holidays reduce anxiety and depression. Stress hormones are decreased even in short trips.
Productivity is improved when workers rest regularly and well. Being more motivated improves productivity. Studies have shown that better work is produced when leave time is mandatory.
All of these benefits translate to children as well. Their lives will be more fulfilled which results in better schoolwork. They will be happier and more ready to work hard and well after a good rest over the December period.
Some specific holiday benefits for children
The free time holidays afford children is necessary for their well-being. In our busy schedules, children are overscheduled. Having time where they can choose what to do on their terms is vital.
This will also allow them to initiate what they want to play, for themselves. Not because of a scheduled event. It is important in children’s development that they use imaginative play. School holidays are very conducive to exactly this.
School holidays mean time for family activities. While everyone would like to travel extensively, even setting aside family time during holidays is wonderful for children.
These family outings and activities have a positive effect on the happiness of children. This is a long-term component of happiness and overall satisfaction into the future.
Even day trips for a short walk in a different setting can be immensely valuable. Taking the time to grab an ice cream as a family while at the mall can be a very special memory as learners grow up.
Why not make the effort to pitch a tent in the garden and spend a night outside? We don’t need to have a massive budget to make holidays worthwhile; use your imagination.
Learning doesn’t have to stop during a long break like December
Holidays should not mean that all learning simply ceases. In fact, holidays provide the opportunity for different kinds of learning. Taking the time to show children how to change a tire or fry an egg is holiday time well spent.
Trips to a museum are both educational and fit any budget. South Africa has many worthwhile museums. Taking such trips will be memorable and educational. Education should never be limited to learning in a classroom.
Even taking children to the shops can be very beneficial. A study showed that shops are ideal places to learn. Asking questions about where the products come from can foster curiosity. Questions like “what else do cows give us” (other than milk) helps children to be more inquisitive about the world around them.
Also discuss current events with your kids. This is something to engender throughout the year. However, holidays give the opportunity for some deep dives into what is happening in the world.
Allowing children to be bored seems counterintuitive. But allow the challenge. Don’t simply put a device into their hand. Let them battle through the feelings of being uncertain of what to do. This will lead them to find creative ways to keep themselves occupied. Let them experience their world through their own eyes, not just through a screen.
DO NOT take a break from reading!
Make sure that you are reading with your children in the holidays. Make sure they are reading for themselves. Set a goal to finish a book together and have them finish a book on their own.
Consider setting a time for reading. Set definite and limited times that they can play some of their video games. Set a 15-minute reading time before that.
And discuss what has been read. Can they tell you what is happening in the story? Can they tell which characters are the good guys and bad guys?
These are just some suggestions to safeguard against neglecting reading. Reading is one of the best ways to learn. It is not restricted to the classroom. Even reading fiction helps us to see ideas that we otherwise might not know about.
There can be many topics and subjects not covered by school. Holidays are the ideal chance to investigate these topics of interest. Find out what your kids might want to find out about. And then make a point to explore them during the break.
Of interest: Some studies showed reduced stress during lockdown
Some students were found to be less anxious during lockdown. This raised concerns about the schooling environment that these pupils were exposed to. This again highlighted the importance of having a nurturing school environment.
Studies also showed that both bullies and bullied children would have benefited from time away from school.
How do parents make sure their children are nurtured while receiving a top quality education?
Japari is the ideal school for all primary school students. We offer a supportive and encouraging environment. We are committed to making 2021 a successful school year for all of our learners. Come and be part of this family in the New Year.
Japari wishes you all a happy festive season
We want to wish everyone a happy and relaxing break. 2020 has been an incredibly taxing year. The lockdown was definitely not the same as a holiday.
We wish all our Japari readers, students and their parents a happy holiday. We look forward to a productive 2021. Take the time to rest this holiday and recharge. Enjoy and have fun. Let us be ready for all that 2021 has the potential to be.