One of the great benefits of the school year, for students and staff alike, is the long summer break and, understandably, everyone looks forward to this time away from normal routine.
In the run up to the holidays there is always a great sense of anticipation and excitement. Many of our pupils are at the end of an, often arduous, exam period and the relief that this is over is almost palpable throughout our classrooms, corridors and playgrounds.
But what to do with this holiday freedom? I always have three activities saved for holidays.
The long summer break presents us all with an important opportunity ‘to stop and smell the roses’, to recharge both mind and body and to reconnect with the world around us. My own habit with holidays can be simplified to setting a goal while engaging with some challenge and exploration. This usually boils down to reading books purely for enjoyment, discovering new things about the local community and engaging in a healthy physical challenge.
I am prone to taking too many books with me whenever I go away, certain in the knowledge I will not read them all but pleased with the thought that I have a choice of which one to pick up. The joy of being lost in a really good story, of being ensconced in another world is, to me, one of the most enjoyable experiences that being away from the hustle and bustle of work can afford you and is a highly recommended way of ‘switching off’.
And being ‘off the clock’ also affords us the chance to take more time to enjoy things that are right outside the front door, but that we usually rush past in order to get to the next appointment or lesson. In Bristol we are very lucky to have so much to enjoy that one can never really run out of things to do. But also, just simply going for walks around your neighbourhood and seeing what you can get involved in, perhaps helping others by volunteering or attending a local event is an experience that enriches your day-to-day life when the holidays are over.
Being physically active is also a very good way of living in the ‘now’, which in turn can make a break feel even longer and there is often nothing more beneficial for our state of mind than taking exercise.
Planning this also helps as I believe exercise can be best enjoyed by taking on a challenge that lasts part or the duration of the holidays. My own particular undertaking this year is swimming, with which I have just recently re-engaged.
As ever, I will look forward to hearing holiday stories at the beginning of the next term from our lively students whose own ideas and activities are so often a source of inspiration to me. One thing is certain – wherever we are and whatever we are doing, life need never be dull.
Headmaster, Bristol Grammar School