What should you do in the summer holidays 2021?

With the summer holidays fast approaching, parents have been asking me what their young people should be doing in the summer holidays.

In this post, I'll be sharing the things students in years 7-13 should be doing in the summer holidays to give you some clarity and reassurance.

What should you do in the summer holidays?

1. Take a holiday

The last 15 months or so have been very stressful and demanding for everyone. Even in a normal year, you would expect people to be exhausted by the time the summer holidays come around – but what with the assessments that students in years 11 and 13 have had to do to get their grades, the increased rate of assessment that students in yeas 10 and 12 have experienced and the long months of home learning that everyone has been through, most people are more exhausted than usual.

That's why it's really important to be kind to our young people and give them a break. This is especially so if they'll be in year 11 or year 13 in September.

Both year 11 and year 13 are a long slog with little opportunity for a break. If your school is planning mocks before Christmas your only real opportunity to have a proper holiday before summer 2022 will be over the Christmas holiday. If your school is planning mocks after Christmas October half-term will be your best bet for time off. All the other holidays, apart from a day or weekend off here and there, should be focused on revision and coursework. (Check this post out for more information on the pattern and shape of the school year.)

I think everyone has their fingers crossed that life will be much more ‘normal' next school year and the academic calendar will return to it's historic regularity. Let's hope so – but, if it doesn't it's a good idea for us to have taken stock, had a good rest and be ready for what life throws at us.

So, whatever you do – prioritise your children getting a proper holiday.

2. Fill in the gaps

If your child has struggled with home learning, or you feel like their year group has been neglected because of their school has been focusing on year 11 and 13 assessments and tags, there may be gaps in their knowledge and understanding that they need to fill in. And, even if they have been following a full timetable of lessons and doing their best, there will undoubtedly be weaknesses in their knowledge and understanding (this is normal, by the way).

If you think there are some major gaps to fill, the summer holidays is a good time to do this. But, take note of my first piece of advice, that they need a holiday, and prioritise that. If there are gaps – address them with a laser focus, rather than a generalised approach to learning.

You can also find more detail on filling in the gaps in this free chapter of my book, The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take. If you've already got a copy, it's Step 8 that you're looking for.

Inside The Extraordinaries Club, we have a wide range of How to Revise Masterclasses focusing on different GCSE and A-Level subjects. Doing one or two of these over the summer will seriously help a student to improve their grade in a subject where they're not quite up to speed.

We have also had several clients sign-up for 1:1 coaching over the summer to help them to identify the gaps, improve their study technique and hit the ground running in the next school year. Click here to find out more about our 1:1 academic coaching.

3. Do any prep work for next year

Students starting in the sixth form in September and people moving on to higher-level study at university may well have been set preparation work or given a reading list. They should definitely be aiming to finish this in time for the new term to start.

You could either do a little every day, chipping away at finishing this work, or you could allocate a few days to getting this work done so it doesn't bleed into the rest of your holiday.

4. Write your UCAS Personal Statement

Year 13 is tough, what with university applications, entrance tests, interviews, coursework mocks and the final exams. It's definitely the biggest test of a student's school life in terms of juggling everything and the amount and difficulty of the work. Therefore, if your child is currently in year 12 and they're planning to apply to university it would be a great idea for them to get their personal statement done and dusted, ready to be approved by their teachers when they get back to school and then sent off straight away.

If you're looking for help with the Personal Statement check out my Personal Statement Masterclass which will walk you through the whole process, making sure they get offers from your child's choices of universities.

5. Take part in The Extraordinaries Club Summer Award

We're running The Extraordinaries Club Summer Award for the second time this year to give students a chance to learn new skills and add something to their CV. Think of it like a mini-EPQ.

Here's a bit more detail…

What is The Extraordinaries Club Summer Award?

It's a chance to explore an idea, work with a mentor, present your findings to others and receive written recognition, advice and guidance on your learning.

Who's it for?

Anyone who is a member of The Extraordinaries Club (new members are always welcome). For younger members, this is a chance to learn independent research skills, older members can refine skills in anticipation of EPQs or IB Extended Essays and those who have recently left Y13 could take this as a chance to focus on an element of undergraduate study. 

Why do The Extraordinaries Club Summer Award?

This is an opportunity to use some of the time over the summer to deepen your understanding of the world around you and to learn invaluable independent study skills which will help you in your future work, no matter what level you are at. And, with many things cancelled and holidays more limited, you'll have plenty of time to fill, so why not do something interesting with your time?

How does it work? 

Joining the Award will allow you to work through the framework below. 

What interests you? 

Now is the time to answer that question, explore that issue or share your passion. 

  • Identify a question, issue or interest that you want to explore further  
  • Plan your progress
  • Work out how you are going to tackle your topic 
  • Produce your project, research or artefact 
  • Present your findings during our Award evening 
  • Review and reflect – what has this process taught you about your topic and about yourself? 

With regular group mentoring calls to support, guide and advise you through the process, this is an opportunity to work independently and develop essential skills for learning to learn, as well as finding out some fascinating ideas. 

What could I choose? 

You can choose any topic that interests you, but we recommend that you don’t choose something that you’ve already covered in school or for another project – use this as a chance to learn something new. 

Think of it as an investigation – try and identify a question to be answered, or a theory you can test. 

Your idea can involve anything from robotics to biodiversity, from the past to the future, literature, art, design or music. 

What do you get out of it?

At the end, students who complete the award will get both a certificate and detailed feedback on their work. You'll also have an enriching experience learning something new about a topic you're really interested in and developing new skills that will serve you in the future. And, you won't be bored all summer long!

If your family doesn't already belong to The Extraordinaries Club, you're welcome to join to take part in the summer award. Click here to find out more (including dates and times) and sign-up.

Should your child be revising for mocks in the autumn?

Over and above the filling in of gaps that I've already talked about above, I suggest students use the summer holidays to have a holiday. They can come back to consistent and concerted revision in September to get ready for mock exams.

How are you going to spend the summer holidays?

Has this blog post answered your question, “What should you do in the summer holidays?”

Having read this blog post, how are you going to encourage your child to spend the summer holidays? Are you going to balance some rest with some catch-up work? Is your teen excited to explore something they're interested in through the Summer Award?

Let me know in the comments below.

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