This week I was working in a Year 3 class, and the kids were so excited to be back at school after two weeks of holidays, their giant smiles were infectious. This positive response to going back to school is something that really only happens in these junior years of primary school (maybe year 5 and 6 if you are lucky!). As the kids come in they are excitedly talking with their friends about the movies they saw, the laser tag birthday party they went to, and where their footy team is on the ladder now. One of the main activities most teachers do (myself included) after a break like this is talk with the students about what they did over the school holidays. I heard lots of great stories, from how much they loved Inside Out and The Minions movie, to the high scores they got at ten pin bowling, to how late Grandma let them stay up when they went for a sleep over. Some were detailed (like getting a full list of everything they ate and drank at the movies) while others were more vague (“I went to Coles”). What gets me every time though, is those kids who when you ask what they did over the holidays, they shrug and say “I did nothing”. There are always a handful of these kids in every single class I have ever taught in.
Truth is, it might not be that they don’t remember what they did, or that they did “absolutely nothing” all holidays. It may be more the fear of then having to write it all down. These children think that the less they say about what they did, the less they will have to write down. These are the kids who need that bit of extra prompting, and while it may feel arduous, asking questions like “What did you do at your friend’s house?” “Who else was there?” “What games did you play on the Xbox?” “What did you eat for lunch?” it is these questions that help get kids thinking about what they are going to write next. If we ask question, after question, after question, eventually we get something (no matter how small) to work with!
Lauren is the owner of MPT, a primary school teacher, tutor and Mum to a nearly 2 year old son.