School Holidays

by Mia Morris

By the time you read this, the school holidays and an oasis of calm, panic and then numbness would have arrived all it would feel at the same time. Somewhere in the trauma of life and its complexities, you're now - possibly - getting some time away from work and studying. Hopefully, the opportune time apart from the start of the year to review plans - not just for you, but for your immediate family and beyond.

Growing up in Hackney, I didn't have too many friends but our family then was so large there was always cousins. There was the local playscheme, the church trips to Margate, Skegness, Brighton and you hoped for rain on the way down and sun for when you got there and then stayed without what felt like a rotation of cousins and close family friends, where you played, swopped comics shared Enid Blyton stories, experimented with make up while wearing your elder cousin's clothes..

These are totally different times now and most of us don't feel that the streets are too safe for our young people. No matter how hard you try, today's young people just are not us: why should they be happy to attend these events when for us these were all part of our rites of passage. That journey we are always continuously, striving for where we find out more about ourselves and others in the process.

This is to remind you that you possibly could have had a different type of break with and apart from the children. By the time you read this, your young people could either be away with grandparents in the North of England or abroad in the Caribbean, America and Europe. If, like most of us, you are still in London, this is the gentle nudge to rekindle your love for London transport and all.

Very often, nothing beats someone coming over and having to rediscover London's bookshops, the South Bank, Museum and Art Galleries: these are not middle class aspirations - these are places that we have every right to go and attend activities.

Maybe you have a close friend or relative who may be happy to give them that well sought after work experience in exchange for travel and lunch. However, young people must fully appreciate that if anyone is making such an effort they should recognize and appreciate the opportunity. Later, when they are completing applications describing personal attainments, they can share their new-found skills and confidence with potential higher education institutions and employers.

It is important that our young people are encouraged to be a force to be recognized, as often is the case they doing not take time when filling out forms and then miss out on fabulous opportunities as it may look like they do not care. It is vital that they care passionately about family and seek opportunities to find out more about the environment where they live. Encourage letter writing, pen pals staying in touch via email or anything that will connect them back to the soil of their ancestors.

For the young people across London and large cities are Summer University programmes, so if you have 15 and 16 year-olds kicking their heels and wanting to work, nothing beats them handling different opportunities and really exploring them. Often I am dismayed to see so few of our young people - particularly in large inner city areas - for example, sampling various London boroughs' work such as the Shakespeare4kidz project, universal board games, or designing your own online magazine.

You will be able to get the information need from your local library, Connexions personal advisors office. In most instances they may ask for a 5 deposit per student and four passport-size photographs for your personalized ID card without these processing is unlikely to happen.

These programs are open to young people aged from 10-19 years old and go on in most cases until 27th August. What more could your young people want all in a venue near you, they will receive a certificate for every class you attend and for some classes there will be an opportunity to receive a certificate endorsed by the local university who has been involved in organising the program

So why encourage your young person to attend:-

  • It will help build their self confidence and self esteem
  • Give them new skills which will be always useful to build on continuously
  • Help improve study and revision skills and techniques
  • Hopefully help plan future career and training goals.

More importantly helping your young person to stay on edge over the summer so that they are more confident with attending school next term.

Perhaps you should look at developing writing journals together where you share with each other's plans and future hopes and get in the habit discussing them. It is vital in these days that young people see parents and carers planning and problem solving - this helps them appreciate later on how and why things work the way they do in the family.

Maybe you could do a family project together: we are always inundates on our website with information request for the summer what activities should I take my young person to, where can they meet other likeminded people.

You could consider making a family tree together, how about pooling together and clearly labelling in pencil on the back of the photographs details date, and the nature of the activity.

Young people have brilliant multi media skills can have a go at video recording and taping Aunty Maude who likes Baking, or Uncle Bert who does everyone haircut. It is imperative whilst we are busying ourselves checking out other peoples work that we started to place a distinct value of our own.

Now is the time to also start thinking about the next academic year no matter what age and stage your child might be in the education system there is so much you can give them a guiding hand with.

Now is the time to earmark space at home for them to organize their workspace, so if you have a computer that is not the end of things find out how to do back up regularly as nothing beats stories of young people and adults to that matter losing vital documents as the computer crashed.

Now is also the time to get hold of booklist, make yourself a total nuisance in your local library request and get them to order books you would like to see more of. If you come

across a good book please do not keep it to yourself. Better still form your own book group , all you need is a basic system that works, meet once a month same time and same place and just explore.

Your local library is a good place to start in some boroughs they have also got book groups home work clubs. Get your young person signed up within reason to various activities Scouts, Brownies, Youth Club make sure that they are out and about meeting new people and building skills. Make sure that you know where your nearest Saturday, Supplementary Complimentary school are find out where they regularly meet and attend regularly.

Ensure that your child know that you are there for them: get charts out, select TV programmes together and encourage your child to start writing in a journal book reviews, stock up now literally with writing materials. Get dictionaries and magazines - and ensure you encourage your child to develop a thirst for knowledge and information.

Please do not be rushing around August Bank Holiday to buy your school uniform. Or God forbid on the day a young boy was due to start I met the mother a very busy business person and community worker running around the station like a headless chicken as she had not sorted out vital items for school.

Discuss expectations of the holiday and plans as early as possible, have some goals as a family and for yourself and get going... remember - if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Many years ago an eminent academic Dr Morgan Dalphinis, in giving a key note at a supplementary school conference, said: 'When I am out and about visiting various education institutions I am always able to spot the young people at whatever age they maybe now who have attended supplementary school. Maybe it is the way that they sit in the front seat attentively, have their book open read to do business.'

Too often in my work I come across young people from our community who have poor communication skills. It is important that we instil in young people the difference in speaking to their peers and to adults. There is a subtle but marked difference, when you request that they give you feedback you such a get the shorthand answer of it was alright, it was boring I did not like it but nothing further so that at least you can modify.

Promise yourself during the period of reflection that you will take sometime to nourish yourself as well so when dull damp wet days arrived you are ahead of the march with your plans. Perhaps there is an activity you have always wanted to take up now is a good time to follow your nose and look out for the colleges and further education institutions who plan taster programs.

More importantly enjoy this kingdom and make the best of what we have here and plan for your trip .... may your footsteps always be light.

Mia Morris runs a successful research and development consultancy and is the owner of three websites:, and


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