Saturday 25 February 2017

School's out and it's no holiday for mum and dad

Sarah Caden

Over the last few years in Canada, they have been rolling out all-year schooling, thus shedding the traditional months-long school summer holiday that most Irish kids still enjoy. If you're a working parent with children of school-going age, that news makes your heart lift, right? Lift with hope, before it's brought back to Earth with a pang of guilt.

For most primary school Irish children, the summer started last Friday. Which means that for most working Irish parents, a certain conversation has been running for weeks now. Running with other parents: "What are you doing with them? What camps are they doing? How are you going to manage?" And running internally: "How am I going to manage? Why can't the camps run until 5pm? Jesus, why aren't there any camps in August; not everyone has the time off/holiday home/an au pair?" And both conversations are followed, often, with the same thought: that this is no way to think about your children.

The problem is, though, that in a country where both parents have to work, those nine weeks off are incredibly difficult. And long. So while Canada points to research that says that two-month summer holidays lead to "learning loss", while the new, '45 days on, 15 days off' model does not, Irish parents might see it from a different point of view. Anything, they cry, to save them spending another panic-ridden evening researching suitable summer camps.

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