While families with children are not encouraged to take annual leave during school term time, this can be unavoidable. Parents either have to stay at home for the sake of school continuity, or remove children for a period of time in order to meet family holiday needs.

Schools and the education department are not able to work with parents on this issue, because it is controlled by employment circumstances. Some employers are able to accommodate families so school holidays and recreational leave coincide. However, the economies of business mean that many employees have to take annual leave during school terms.

Parents sometimes approach teachers for work to be done while children are on interstate or overseas holidays. That strategy generally fails to work. At best, the tasks set are only attempted in a half-hearted manner. Young people also feel ‘school during holidays’ to be an imposition and approach assignments with a negative mindset.

Over the years I was regularly contacted by families taking leave during school time with a request for holiday homework. Standard tasks were not set but instead, children were encouraged to compile journals. Entries were to highlight places they visited, discussing experiences shared with parents and siblings. In order to expand written text, photographs and illustrations were encouraged.

Students who accepted this task were rewarded when they returned to school. This happened in a number of ways:

Children had their diaries read and evaluated for content, creativity and accuracy, with a feedback sheet prepared for each student. They were able to discuss their journals in class, sharing their knowledge and recounting their experiences. They received certificates commemorating the effort they had devoted to journal preparation.

Children were interviewed during assemblies, sharing their travelogues with units or the whole school.

Students had the opportunity to summarise their travels with articles included in the school newsletter.

On occasion, the NT News was contacted. Children were featured in the local newspaper, with the work they had done being acknowledged.

Encouraging children to complete diaries commemorating their travels, gave them an indelible and everlasting reminder of their holiday. Developing the recording habit had the added benefit of impressing upon them the value of recording their experiences. Keeping a journal or diary is a good habit to establish.

Travel is a great educator, offering exposure to the world that adds to an understanding of other cultures and places. Trip diaries children compile help with remembrance and recall long after journey’s have ended. Retaining memories and reliving experiences is a positive outcome.

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