Saturday, 16 March 2013

Embrace the Break

As I look outside at the still all too present piles of snow, it seems hard to believe that for the next two weeks our school district will be on Spring Break! Hopefully, many staff and families will be able to take full advantage of the holiday to rest and recharge in preparation for academic year's final quarter.

The tradition and need for a spring break are both long standing and self evident. Its a long haul from Christmas to Easter through some of the darkest and dreariest weather of the year. This year BC added a Family Day holiday to the school calendar in February, but one long weekend doesn't really compare to the luster and allure of two full weeks away from the regular routine.

While the holiday may have had its roots in the agrarian calendar and connections to the observance of Easter, there is solid and scientific evidence that the holiday break has a positive impact on physical and mental health. The insurance company Standard Life lists the benefits as stress relief, improved mental cognition, improved physical health, strengthened family ties and all round greater enjoyment of life.  National Public Radio (NPR) reports that holiday breaks give everyone time to restore balance to the lives, improve their health and sleep patterns and decrease their stress levels.

Most vacation studies focus on the benefits breaks afford to adult workers.  Some critics suggest that frequent school breaks may have an adverse affect on student learning. The spectre of summer learning loss is frequently raised in support of shorter holidays or year round schooling agendas. However, even those that argue over the appropriate length of holidays agree that well placed holiday breaks help to reduce student stress and burn out, have a positive impact on student mental and physical health and generally improve the mood and outlook of most students.

So here's hoping that this year, where ever we are and what ever the weather brings, we all get to enjoy a great spring break.  Whether our breaks involve travel, rest or just a break from the regular routine, let's take full advantage so that we can return to education matters re-energized and ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

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