Summer holidays prove a time of 'increased risk' for students. How prepared are yours?
Do you remember how you celebrated the end of your exams or when you broke up from school for the summer?
Was it a dignified, pleasant affair, that involved a quiet meal at home with your parents, a relaxing bath with a good book and an early bed time?
Or was it a knees-up down the local park, a fumble in the bushes and a worse-for-wear head over the toilet the next day?
Summer holidays can be heady days, especially for those leaving for college, for whom there is no ‘back to school’ - at least not as they know it. But there’s more to the summer holidays than the intoxicating mix of hormones, sun and freedom.
The Children’s Society reports that summer holidays can bring increased risks for students: the lack of routine makes young people potentially more vulnerable to exploitation by predators, both online and in ‘real life’. With the increased exposure to potentially fractured or abusive relationships, it’s also a time of increased risk for running away from home.
As well as this, the lack of routine can cause children to go a little stir crazy themselves. For poorer families especially, the pressure to keep children entertained can be very stressful, when it comes to choosing between feeding the kids or giving in to yet another trip request. As a teacher, can you really feel like you've done your job if you don't at least give your students a small warning about not going 'over the top' or taking unnecessary risks this summer?
While you probably don’t want your students shutting themselves in their room for six weeks with nothing but an X-box for company, you also need to ensure that they’re going to be safe when they go outdoors. After all, their pre-frontal cortex hasn’t developed enough to know quite how stupid a lot of the things they’d like to do really are. They need to know that the summer holidays isn’t one long binge -drinking party of Bacchanalian excess. They need to know that entertaining themselves doesn’t involve anyone ending up dead or pregnant. They need to know that routine can still be important even when they’re not expected to turn up for class. They need good character and life skills education.
So arm your students with the knowledge of how to take care of themselves when you’re not there to nag them into it. September’s new leaf will come floating down from the tree soon enough – and we want all our young people there to see it.
Not sure where to start? Check out one of our free character education resources, such as this Risk Taking Lesson or Personal Safety Lesson Planning a complete new PSHE or Character Education curriculum? Check the rest of our Award Nominated teaching resources here.