September School Holidays 2023: How To Balance Studies and Relaxation

Submitted by KiasuEditor

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Want to give your child time to relax during the September holidays, but feel worried about the upcoming exams?

If your child is sitting for a milestone exam such as the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), it’s tempting to try to ‘maximise’ their time, by scheduling extra tutoring or booking them into last-minute revision bootcamps. During the September holidays, schools may also hold extra lessons for their graduating students.

Our advice is to look at your child’s overall well-being — they may need the week-long holiday to recharge, rather than revise. Below, we suggest productivity tips that may help in creating a balanced schedule, as well as holiday activities that the whole family can enjoy.

The Early Bird Routine Doesn’t Work For Everyone

You may think that the perfect routine for every child is to get up early (7 to 8AM), get some work done, and then head out to play. However, there are many children who may find it easier to concentrate in the afternoon or evening instead. Just for fun, you can ask your child to take a chronotype quiz to see which of these sleep categories they fall into:

  • Bear: Most people fall in the “bear” category. They like to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s bright outside.
  • Lion: Lions are the early birds. They wake up early in the morning and feel tired around 9 or 10PM.
  • Wolf: Wolves are the night owls. They find it hard to wake up early — if they could, they would sleep in till noon. They feel more energetic in the afternoon, and get another burst of energy around 6PM.
  • Dolphin: Dolphins have an irregular sleep pattern, and may find it hard to sleep soundly. Such individuals tend to be more productive in the late morning and early afternoon.

Once your child has identified a sleep category, you can refer to this guide to see the optimal times for scheduling revision. For instance, if your child is a “Wolf” or night owl type, you can arrange an outing or playdate in the morning, head home by 3PM, and let your child settle in to begin work by 4 or 5PM.

Studying For Many Hours Per Day May Backfire

You may feel comforted to see your child at their desk all day, but when it comes to studying, it’s quality that counts, not quantity. In fact, if your child can accomplish their study goals in less time, that’s something to be applauded! 

Productivity expert Cal Newport recommends eliminating rote learning methods, such as rereading one’s textbook, and focusing on active learning methods like quizzing oneself. Here are some of the study tips that he is best known for:

  1. Use Active Recall: Engage in active learning by testing oneself, which helps reinforce memory and comprehension.
  2. Practice Spaced Repetition: Review and revisit information at spaced intervals to strengthen long-term retention of concepts.
  3. Create a Study Schedule: Set a regular and consistent study routine to establish a sense of discipline and avoid last-minute cramming.
  4. Minimise Distractions: Turn off phone notifications, block distracting websites, and create a designated study space to maximise focus during study sessions.
  5. Take Breaks: Incorporate short breaks during study sessions to recharge and maintain optimal brain performance.
  6. Prioritise Sleep: Ensure adequate sleep, as it plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and overall brain function.
  7. Set Clear Goals: Define specific goals for study sessions, to maintain motivation and directions.
  8. Avoid “Busywork”: Focus on high-impact tasks that contribute significantly to learning, rather than getting caught up in low-value activities.

Screen Time: It’s Not The Only Way To Relax

What does “rest” or “relax” mean to your child? Often these days, kids want time with their screens. However, we’re also becoming aware that excessive device use may interfere with good sleep, mental wellness, and brain function. 

As we wait for the results of longer-term research, there is enough correlation in current research to suggest that an overreliance on screens isn’t good for our children’s well-being. And as many of us are aware from personal experience, a day spent lying in bed with screens doesn’t necessarily recharge us or make us feel refreshed to tackle work. 

In reality, it may be tricky to set strict screen time limits for tweens and teens. Here are some strategies you can use to ensure a balanced lifestyle during the school holidays:

  • Schedule activities for your child that take place out of the home, such as sports or a fun workshop
  • As a family, eat together during meals, and make sure there are no phones at the table
  • Parents should model healthy device use — if you’ve been on a screen too long yourself, announce that you’re going on a walk, and invite your child to join you
  • Convert screen time into family time, by watching a movie or TV series together
  • Play board or card games as a family
  • Encourage your child to engage in non-screen activities to unwind, such as reading, sketching, or playing with Lego 

Where To Find Fun Activities for the September Holidays

School holiday activities can be fuss-free and simple. Not sure what to do? Click here for our compilation of 40+ DIY walking trail guides that you can use at any time!

For more fresh experiences for the family, you can also check the following websites:

Website Activity Update
EventBrite Community events | Museum events
National Heritage Board Museum events
National Library Board (NLB) Library events
SportsHub Sports programmes
ActiveSG Sports programmes
People’s Association (PA) Neighbourhood events | Local outings, tours
National Parks Events, workshops
Arts Republic Arts listings
Esplanade Family-friendly events


Want school holiday suggestions from other parents? Join the conversation on the KiasuParents forum!

Tue 22/08/2023