Summer is Here

It is summer, apparently. As we say a fond farewell to the Royal Cornwall Show once more, it is nearly time for the covers to be regularly drawn across the grass courts of Wimbledon and for families to huddle behind windbreaks on the beach.

Truro High’s school year finishes on July 2nd, just over three weeks away. I am sure that by then the sun will be reigning down on us. And so, it is time to start thinking about the summer and, I’m sure more importantly for some, the summer holidays.

It is around this time of the year that newspapers such as the Telegraph and the Times start to publish advice from headteachers about how children should spend their summers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, no head suggests pupils should be studying, revising or anything of this nature. Pupils are under enough pressure to do this during the academic year. The summer is an opportunity to explore other interests and have some adventures. So, in this vein here are my top five suggestions for pupils who aren’t quite sure how to spend their time over the coming months


1. Read a book for the sheer pleasure of reading

It could be any book, but I think I really have fiction in mind when I suggest this. For the younger ones, I would suggest anything by David Walliams, if they haven’t already devoured his works. They are funny, clever and original. With my own 7 old year daughter I am currently working through Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven. We are on the fifth book of fifteen – I hope to have completed the set by the end of August. Despite their clash with some of our modern day sensibilities and attitudes, the books have stood the test of time pretty well instilling every reader with a desire for adventure and mystery (as well as picnics with lashings of ginger beer). For older girls, a top suggestion, though it might be a hard read for some, would be A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Hosseini’s most well-known novel is probably The Kite Runner, but to my mind Suns is his best work. It deals with the plight and place of women over several decades in Afghanistan. It is absolutely gripping, though not for the faint-hearted.


2. Grow something in the garden

I talked in my blog before last about my own gardening experience and the importance of trial and error. Watching something you’ve planted grow can be a thrilling experience (no, really, it can). For younger children there is so much to learn about the life cycle of plants and, depending on what you grow, about food sources in the process. But beyond this, children can build dens, make mud stew and generally just muck about. It is damn good to potter in the garden and have some real thinking time. We don’t always take the opportunity to reflect and ponder these days. Gardening presents a chance to be a philosopher and contemplate the meaning of life. I’ve always imagined Plato developing his Theory of Forms as he tended his roses.


3. Have a family debate

This one is a bit trickier. If I discover a way to have a genuine debate which isn’t about who should tidy up the Sylvanian Families in the playroom, I’ll let you know. But in the summer holidays there is often a greater opportunity to sit around the dinner table at leisure and discuss things. Here are some possible topics for all the family:

  • If you were a fruit, which fruit would you be and why?
  • How could you weigh your head?
  • ‘That black dot in the distance is my house. I live in my house. Therefore I live in a black dot.’
  • ‘My brain is edible. My mind is in my brain. Therefore my mind is edible.’
  • Can anything be art?

I am sure you can think of or find your own topics. Try googling ‘P4C questions’, for instance.


4. Visit a museum or art gallery

Younger children, or even older ones, don’t always thank you for dragging them around a museum or art gallery, but I think it is important that children start to familiarise themselves with these institutions and their importance while they are still young. An art gallery is a much harder sell to an 18 year old who has never visited one. In Cornwall I would recommend the National Maritime Museum. It currently has a Viking exhibition complete with dress-ups and a Viking ship you can board. It’s a fascinating, interactive space which truly brings the Anglo-Saxon world to life. (There are various things to sniff as well!). When I went recently however, my daughter was obsessed with the sailing boats you can steer in the indoor pool for a pound a go. This summer I plan to make her run around the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives (if I can cope with the thought of the hordes in the town).


5. Run around a bit

Perhaps I’ve left the most important one till last. Exercise is obviously an important part of wellbeing and we want to teach our children good habits from an early age. In Cornwall the options are endless, whether it’s a good coastal walk, body boarding at the beach or cycling the Camel Trail. It’s fairly easy to tire them out. We will be on the Camel Trail regularly, as well as walking the coasts around Mawgan Porth.


I wish you a barbecue-filled summer of enjoyment. Good luck!


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