Half-term: for relaxing or revising?

Trampoline party over, next excitement is half-term...

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is about what to do at half-term. Tune out or brain up? For more info about parenting see my book Homemade Kids, or for my website click here.

Half-term may mean less morning panic this week, but I’m still shocked by the amount of work my primary school aged daughter Nell, just 11, has come back home with. Teachers say she must revise for SATS (a test I’d wrongly assumed was a snapshot of progress). I reckon she will need to do an hour of study each day to get through her task list. But there are also 20 plus thank you letters to write from her birthday, and a bit of music practice (that’s another half an hour if she is willing to work on piano and cello). And time made for reading.

Imagine what the pressure must be for those students running into GCSEs, AS or A levels? Perhaps it’s no wonder that so many of the university Year 1 and Year 2 students I teach need stress counselling (and not because of me!). They’ve been in a pressure-cooker environment for too long to take.

Work harder?
Given Nell’s age this has to be about the last chance she’ll get to play with toys, but there’s no sympathy. It seems that school demons are pushing for her to be educationally hot housed. Worse for mums like me, it gives Nell little time to get competent at the sort of life-useful skills that also need to be learnt – opening things, sewing, dealing with animals, cooking well seasonal items (eg, brussel sprout tops, beetroot chocolate cake, acorn pate?), balancing or even running around outside in the frost and snow.

Over to you
What do you think: if you are in charge of a child should half term be for relaxing or revising? And it’s no good saying a bit of both because I’m not sure that the two function well together.

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2 Comments on “Half-term: for relaxing or revising?”


  1. I think half term should be for relaxing. My son (aged 10) just has 10 spelling words to learn over half term (ones that he got wrong over the course of this term’s weekly test). I don’t mind that. My daughter (aged 13, at a grammar school) just has a couple of bits of homework to finish that are due in the week after half term, and actually she could have finished them before the half term started because they were set earlier in the week; nothing set particularly to do in half term.

    So I’m pleased with that for both of them, children need free time just to enjoy being free!


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