Shorter more frequent school holidays the way to go says expert

parenting 23/07/2018

Thousands of school children head back to the classroom today after their mid-year break.

In total there are 12 weeks of school holidays every year, and managing this can be a headache for parents.

AUT Professor of Design Welby Ings told The AM Show this time off could be distributed much better.

"We inherited the summer holiday from the UK and held onto that. I think shorter holidays more often are a better way to go.

"With the six-week holidays the kids are scratching at the doors by week four and parents have gone nuts. There are pressure points in the year that we could extend slightly.

He says holidays should be reviewed because the makeup of families in the workforce has changed.

"There are 12 weeks of school holidays. If a parent takes all their annual leave they're only able to cope with one third of that. If there are two working parents, and if they don't have any holidays together, they can maybe cope with two thirds.

Mr Ings says school holiday programmes can often be too expensive for families, especially for those with more than one or two children.

One alternative is a "community cluster" where two or three parents make up a roster and take a few days off each where they look after each other's children.

Another option Mr Ings explained is coming out of Scandanavia, where companies brand themselves as 'family-friendly' and will create an environment in which children can come to work with their parents if other options are unrealistic.

The third option Mr Ings offered was an anecdote he heard from a parent, who said to her children that she was 'not the director of their cruise liner' for the holidays.

"She said 'we've got this much money, this much time, I can be with you for this much, we have to plan our holiday' and sat down with her kids and planned it out."

He said the current education review should look at holidays when exploring the shifting needs of children, parents, and teachers.