So what happens during a kid’s summer holidays? Well, I’m sure there’s time for a game or two of football with the lads, a chance to catch up with friends and getting on with some of that rotten homework that needs to be done in time for the start in September. Alongside that you’ve got a summer of tutoring too… Wait, what?
Oh yes, I forgot to mention. In order to prevent schoolchildren from forgetting bits and pieces or being rusty come September, more than a quarter of parents of primary school kids are hiring a tutor this summer to push them along.
Some other things that parents are doing that the survey picked up on:
20% said they were getting the tutoring to make sure their child was ‘the best in class’ when it came round to September.
Parents were finding some cheap activities to keep their children’s’ minds active during the break, ranging from books to apps to revision and even the occasional online course.
More than one-third of parents also had no idea that their kid’s learning might slip during the summer break.
It does raise a couple of points, doesn’t it?
Firstly, I’m surprised that 1-in-3 parents didn’t realise that a long period away from school might be detrimental to their learning. It does seem remarkably obvious to the vast majority of people that going back to a skill or subject after a period of absence is going to lead to some rust. I mean, that’s what the first few weeks in September are for: catching up and refreshing kid’s memories before getting on to the new content. If parents can recall taking a holiday and getting back afterwards, it’s no secret that you feel swamped for the first couple of days as you adjust again to school life.
Those that do seem to grasp the idea of the ‘summer slide’ seem to be doing something about it, which shows a willingness from parents to engage in their child’s learning. I think that there’s nothing wrong with that. The more that parents get involved with their child’s learning, the better. That said, though…. Is tutoring over the summer going a bit too far?
The great argument is that by filling the breaks with other bits and pieces, the drop-off won’t be quite as severe. I worry that’s too much pressure though. Surely the summer holidays are just that: a holiday? A chance to have some time where you don’t have to worry so much about what’s going on with the big dominating factor in your life (the same applies to adults and getting time off work…) is surely a good thing. Obviously, a bit of work before they go back will help refresh but it does seem that ploughing the kid’s brains for the five weeks they’re off school comes across as a bit extreme.
What I definitely disagree with are those parents who want their kids to be the best in the class. Simple black and white logic is needed here: they’ve either got it or they haven’t. If they aren’t the very best, then only trying to make them be is only putting them under more pressure. A little encouragement is always good, but turning them into some super-child who bangs out 10 GCSEs at the age of ten when last year they had a patchy school report isn’t going to help anyone. If they are the best out there, won’t they be trying to get something done anyway? Surely the best pupils are the ones that are not only the highest achievers, but also the most motivated and proactive with their learning. Trying to turn your kids into something they aren’t doesn’t help them and might give you a shock come results time.
Indeed, Dr Mary Bousted, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, thinks that “kids should be allowed to be kids.”
“Children need a break from learning pressure and time to play – which is itself educational.”