SCHOOL HOLIDAYS – FRAUGHT TIMES

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS OFTEN AN ISSUE

During school holiday periods, our community worries as to how young people are going to spend their time during their time away from the classroom.

The police gear up for an expected increase in everything from misdemeanour to property crime. These activities attract a small minority of young people. City and town councils prepare an array of activities that might be appealing to children and adolescents.

Cartoonists offer a humorous take on the reluctant acceptance of school holidays by parents. Media stories also cover the issue of challenges they face in having to have to find extra time for their children during holiday periods. Much is made of their difficulty in having to juggle work commitments with care for their offspring.

Employment and family priorities juxtapose on parents, who want to do the right thing at home and work.

Work is a major issue. Several decades ago with only one parent working, children were more ably provided for at home during holiday periods. Changing family circumstances has lead to reliance on organisational and agency support to provide holiday care.

While closed for regular lessons, there is pressure on schools to provide meaningful activities for children during these weeks. Expectations range from duty of care, to providing parents with child minding alternatives. Many schools provide outside school hours care during the school year, extending their programs to include vacation care. These programs are fully subscribed almost as soon as applications for holiday care are invited.

During holiday periods, some sporting groups offer extended activities for young people. Community based organisations including the YMCA design programs likely to appeal.

Safety

Generation X and Y adults, when children, could play outdoors without supervision in a relatively safe and secure environment. During holidays, they would go for long walks, bike rides or enjoy extended hours of play in parks and public places. This included unaccompanied visits to shops and cinemas.

Safety and security issues have changed this free and easy approach to outdoor and independent activities. Because of these concerns, parents and society no longer condone unsupervised activities. Independence for children and young people has been curtailed.

The holiday weeks are always welcomed by students. But there have been significant changes to the way they can spend time away from school. Those changes are more about necessity than desire.

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