We’re coming to the end of exam season, and that can only mean one thing: schools are about to close their doors for the summer!
When you look ahead, the summer break can seem almost endless. After a year of hard work, the prospect of so much time off can even be daunting.
There are plenty of ways to use your time over the break: you can relax, watch movies, and catch up on a few gaming sessions you’ve missed during the year. These are all great, and it’s important to take the time to do the things you enjoy, but it’s also useful to think about how you can use the break productively.
Here’s a few of our pointers on how to have a balanced summer break: taking the time to rest and recharge, while also preparing for the next school year ahead to make sure you’re kicking this off on the right foot.
Make sure to take a break – you’ve earned it.
You’ve worked hard during the year, and now it’s time to relax. Don’t short-change yourself – whatever you do, make sure you take a proper break over summer! While it’s great to do a little bit of schoolwork during this time, we recommend that you take at least a couple of weeks of not thinking about your work at all. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and none of us can keep on working perpetually with no break at all.
The best activities to relax usually involve other people, and often the great outdoors. Catch up with your friends and family, go for a long walk or bike ride, take a trip to the beach – all these things are part of a healthy and balanced life. Make the most of your break and invest in yourself and the people around you!
Start exploring new activities that interest you.
When was the last time you learnt a completely new skill or picked up a new hobby?
Learning something from the ground up takes a lot of mental energy, because you’re creating new connections in your brain that didn’t previously exist. That’s a tough thing to do, and often you’ll find that you don’t have the time to properly get stuck into this during the school year.
That’s why summer break is a great time to dedicate some quality time to learning a new skill. Is there a musical instrument you wish you could play, a language you’ve always wanted to learn, or maybe an area of one of the subjects you’ve learnt at school that you’d like to spend more time learning about? Now’s the perfect time. You’ll almost always find that learning on your own schedule is a lot more engaging than following a curriculum during the year, because it allows your mind to wander across the new subject material in a much more organic way.
One of the best ways to start off this process (particularly if you’re unsure about which skill you’d like to learn) is to find engaging YouTube channels and watch a few of their videos. Some of our favourites are 3Blue1Brown for Maths, MinutePhysics for Physics, and Kurzgesagt for all sorts of weird and wonderful Science concepts. If you find the right channel you enjoy, you’ll probably forget all about the fact that you’re learning!
Do some big-picture thinking about your personal goals.
Sometimes, it’s easy to feel a bit like a hamster on a wheel during the school year – you’re running pretty hard, but you’re not necessarily sure if you’re actually getting anywhere. This is a common feeling, and it usually stems from not having a clear idea of your goals.
As we’ve discussed, the summer break gives you an opportunity to step back from your busy day-to-day school life. This also makes it the perfect time to do some big-picture thinking about your own goals. Where do you want to end up in two years’ time? How about five, or ten?
If you’re not sure of the answer, that’s OK! A great place to start is to talk to people you trust, and – in particular – people who you want to be like when you’re older. If you’re fifteen now, and you look at a thirty-year-old in your life and go ‘I think I want to be like them when I’m their age’, then you can be sure that they’ll have some good advice and insights for you to ponder over the next fifteen years. Now’s the time to start asking, planning, and dreaming!
Consider working or volunteering part time.
Even once you’ve had a good, solid break and you’re ready to use the rest of your summer productively, you don’t always have to turn right back to schoolwork! As you get closer to the end of high school, it’s useful to consider whether you’d like to spend part of your summer working – either paid work or volunteering for a cause you care about.
Work opportunities for younger students (below about 16 years old) will, unfortunately, usually be limited to those that arise through people you already know. Perhaps your parents or relatives know someone who runs a small business that could use a bit of summer help? If not, that’s fine as well – another option is to advertise services such as car washing or fence painting around the local neighbourhood.
If none of those options appeal to you, a great way to get experience (and improve your chances of landing a job in summers to come) is to put your hand up to volunteer for a good cause. There are bound to be plenty of local charities that could use your help over the break, even if this is only for a few hours a week. Writing a few emails or knocking on doors to offer your services is a great life skill to learn, and there’s no better time to start than right now!
EduExperts specialises in helping people like you achieve their educational goals. Want to know more? Get in touch with your local centre here.