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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

The sun is shining and it’s that time of year when we’re all thinking ahead to the long awaited summer holidays, daydreaming of a break in the routine, whether in colder or warmer climes.

Swiss Public schools break for summer in the next couple of weeks, but children in private schools, may already be on holiday. This means a break of anything between 7 to 12 weeks, depending on the kind of school they attend.

Some would argue that having worked hard all year and in some cases prepared successfully for examinations, children deserve to spend their holiday weeks lounging around. Of course, we all need some rest and relaxation, but there’s no reason why the summer holidays should mean switching off completely. Let’s not forget too, that many working parents may have limited or no holidays so they put their childcare juggling skills to the test!

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The great news is that we are lucky to have a tremendous range of holiday activities for all ages, tastes and budgets across Suisse Romande. Many private schools run summer courses to learn languages, play sports, brush up on weak academic areas or try something new. These may be residential or day schools. Sports centres often run holiday programmes  - swimming courses, sailing, tennis, riding –the choice is vast. Don’t forget to check out the offer in your local community – often the smallest villages own mountain chalets running weekly adventure camps, which are hugely popular. This incredible choice is not just aimed at younger children ; teenagers in Lausanne for example can enjoy  the  « Passeport Vacances » which allows them to do things independently but within a well organised structure

The rich experiences such activities provide - mixing with others, making new friends, trying new activities, gaining more independence are all part of a child’s personal development and provide wonderful memories for years to come.

What about when the camp is over ? How can you keep the children busy ? Publishers have tapped in to parental anxiety about long holidays and these days you can find holiday text books on spelling, maths and everything else in between practically everywhere,  from the local supermarket to the book shop and probably even at the beach. Yet, there are so many ways in which the summer holidays can provide learning experiences in less formal contexts, without having to spend too much. For example, a trip to an exhibition can generate all sorts of arts and craft activities as children try to extend and develop ideas they have seen.

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Why not encourage children to keep a holiday scrapbook? This could be general and can either be done manually or for as a rainy-day computer project. It could be on a specific theme which runs throughout a week. For example, the theme of food could entail trips to food-related museums (the Alimentarium in Vevey is excellent) ; cupcake decoration, designing menus and table accessories, a visit to a farm or alpage to see how dairy products are made, a trip to the local art gallery to see how food is shown in the works on display, a rainy-day trip to see Ratatouille or some other food-related film - the possibilities are endless.

For the child who loves to read, you could draw up a reading list or for the budding writer, how about creating a newspaper, complete with illustrations, or if your child is good with a camera, how about making a short movie. It’s not too late to plant a vegetable garden and watch with pride as your child harvests the crops you’ll all eat later. Even camping out in the garden becomes an adventure (though the parents might not sleep as well as their offspring !)

It’s also important to give your children a sense of ownership of their holidays. My own children have drawn up a wish list of 15 things to do this summer, so it looks like we’ll be visiting the Swiss national horse stables, going riding and staying for pizza at the pool instead of eating at home-nothing too complicated to organise, but the satisfaction they’ll get from ticking off the things that we’ve done is immense.

Finally, to their list, I add my own, something of an antithesis to the crazy times in which we live. Are you ready for this ? I hope that from time to time my children get bored because whilst we may be tempted to cram-pack our children’s holidays from start to finish, boredom is the best catalyst to creativity and resourcefulness.

On that note, happy holidays to you and your families !

Bio

Sarah frei webSarah Frei comes from England. After a BA at UCL followed by an MA at Exeter University, she headed to multilingual Switzerland to put her language skills to use.

In her many years at Brillantmont International School, a day and boarding school in Lausanne with a British IGCSE /A Level programme and an American High School programme for 11-18 year olds, Sarah‘s roles have considerably evolved, to reflect the fast-moving world in which we live. She started out teaching English language and literature before becoming Head of Marketing and Communication.

Sarah is responsible for all marketing, branding, communication and school events and also looks after the 4000-strong alumni network.

She is excited by the opportunities created by technology not only to communicate with the multicultural, far-flung school community but also to share knowledge and experiences about educational practice. At the heart of all those activities lies the driving force – the desire for each child to develop their full potential.

www.brillantmont.ch