Tuesday 26th October 2021

School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

As a teacher from 1970 onwards I remember many school holidays because they:

  • meant a break from the regular work of teaching
  • were often a holiday to my parents’ in Sydney or elsewhere when we lived in the ‘bush.’ See here for more!
  • provided some ‘breathing space’ to read books again, go to the shops for more than the necessary items
  • having time with our children to do family activities such as going to the city for the day or to a local shopping centre for ice-skating.

As a teacher and assistant principal back in the day I should have been able to remember when New South Wales Schools moved from 3 school holidays at the end of 3 school terms, but I cannot.

Maybe one of my younger and more clever readers will recall!

The Difference Made by Moving to 4 Terms and 4 School Holidays.

  • less teacher and student fatigue. In 3 terms a year, sometimes the terms were between 13 and 15 weeks long. Yes. They. Were.
  • greater flexibility for families to take vacations in other states of Australia as the holiday periods are/were different.
  • even though the number of days in which public schools must be open did not change significantly – around 201 per annum –  it seems easier with the 4 term year.
  • instead of a long post Summer holidays term one, ending in May (Autumn) term one would be finished generally by April.
  • then, instead of a long Autumn into Winter 2nd Term, ending in late August, a winter 2 week break with the 4 term year was welcomed.
  • of course, each term is a challenge within itself but a school holiday break every 10-11 weeks helps people – children AND staff. Parents of course, may argue, not because of child care out of school  but that is different argument not for this post.

This building will ALWAYS be the Dept of Education. However, it is now being converted to a hotel. The Dept of Ed is moving to Parramatta.

My School Holiday Memories as a Kid.

I started school in 1954 and left school in 1967.

  • sometimes school holidays, particularly the August/September ones, meant a vacation with my parents and brother. We travelled by car to the North Coast of NSW for a couple of them. In a Holden FJ. Took a few days! I remember the beaches of Yamba and Coolangatta.
  • other times, we were left to our own devices. Back then we might explore the neighbourhood. I wrote about that here too.
  • as I got to teenage years it was MUCH cooler to be hanging out with friends and this meant catching the bus to Manly and going to the beach. Sometimes I would catch the ferry to the city to see a movie or visit Dad’s office…because I also had a school holiday job there too.
  • and by age 17 I was working in a jewellery shop at the end of The Corso (beach end) in Manly for my school (and teachers’ college hols).

A last swim at Manly some years back. Far West Home in the background along with the familiar Norfolk Pines.

My School Holiday Memories as a Teacher, Principal & Parent & Uni Student.

The reasons I have almost all good memories of school holidays are these:

  • it was always great to finish work days, even though it meant bringing work home to do in the school holidays.
  • at times too, there would be days to go into school (no kids there!) and get some classroom prep done or office work too. This was before on-line anything!
  • I liked the idea (theory) of being uncontactable as a principal but it was not to be, as Dept of Education staff were NOT on school holidays so they might ring re staffing matters, the school being broken into (again) and so on. 24/7 role, really!
  • that I was on holidays at the same time as my children meant I could organise appointments at the dentist (fun, not!), and for clothing purchases along with some days out to ice-skating at Macquarie Centre ( I got coffee, they skated!) and to have friends over for catch-ups.
  • as a family we would use part of the January holidays to go away – usually to a beachside location – for a week’s holiday. It was how we became interested in the place we now call home, The Central Coast
  • as a part-time Uni Student (for 7 years) and raising a family AND holding a school executive role, some school holidays which did not match Uni breaks were a time for essay writing and in two instances, attendance at Residential School for my B.Ed and my M.Ed.

Taken recently at The Entrance NSW. We stayed for 6 January holiday breaks in the 1990s in the white unit block with balconies overlooking the pool.

As a fully retired educator, parent and grandparent, I see that school holidays hold opportunties for families if they can take them up. To re-connect. To go away. To have a variation of routine. These school holidays we have had two visits from our families who live in Sydney. I know people who do not work with child-friendly days off etc it can be a challenge in school holiday times. Some schools have Vacation Care and of course family can help out.

I would hate to think of any change to school holidays as I believe the adults AND the children all benefit for the breaks.

What about you?

What school holiday memories do you have?


I hope you link up a post, old or new, on or off prompt for #LifeThisWeek 17/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 18/52. Taking Stock 2. 30/4/18





  1. My school holiday memories were kind of boring. When we were younger, my brothers and I used to play sword fights with sticks or see who could climb over the cow paddock fence the fastest. Or make jumps to ride our bikes over. As we got older we had to help at the farm more. But we did get one outing over the holidays usually. Mostly to the movies or a museum, which was fun.

    • You were active from a young age and I am glad you have some memories of those times. You had space to play too. I know it’s a working farm but it was a great place to grow up and explore I bet. I love that you also had some fun outings.
      It is expensive to take kids out in the school holidays even more so these days!

      Denyse x

      • I love that you and your family got away in January! Especially when it was to the beach. I haven’t been to many Sydney beaches, it’s a little funny when Americans talk to me about Aussie beaches and I’ve never been to them.

        • It was always the most expensive time to go on a beach holiday but it suited us as a family for January. I can be your Aussie beach connection LOL!!

    • Katherine, tried commenting on your post but twice got an error re Java and cookies. Love the street art photos though!

  2. Thanks for sharing your professional and personal school holiday memories, Denyse. The terms changed from 3 – 4 in WA too. Sometime during my primary school years in the mid 80s I think.

    We are off to Katoomba today as part of our school holiday staycation!

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you younger person! Yes it was in the 1980s but the exact year is hard for me to recall. I think it was closer to the mid-late 1980s.

      I so hope you have a wonderful day trip to Katoomba! These first school holidays for you as a school mum is a great memory-maker for you and your son. Loved seeing the Wollongong Uni visit. Wow. Who knew they had such a great resource!

      Denyse x

  3. School holidays are such a wonderful time to create family memories!

  4. I love spending time with my son and doing family activities on the school holidays! We normally pack them full of activities and forget to relax!

  5. It’s funny now that we’re empty nesters, the only reason I notice it’s school holidays is that the shops are more crowded with kids and the morning traffic is less full on because they’re not being driven to school by their parents! I do have fond memories of my own school holidays and also those of my kids – not having to make school lunches for weeks at a time was a big plus!

    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
    T for Take Control

    • I’ve just returned from my local large shopping centre and it was filled with parents and kids on school hols. It is funny for me to be taking notice of it when it used to be me doing that with kids and grandkids. It is noticeable on our local roads too.

      I had forgotten about the making of school lunches..yes! A break from those too.

      Denyse x

  6. I can just imagine how hard those long terms were. Even with 4 terms now, it’s tiring to drive and participate for so many weeks. Mind you, I do remember the luxury of a three week break between terms as a kid. Two weeks just flies and often I am still catching up on washing school uniforms before it all starts again!

    • They were hard for sure but we as families did far less after school in those days of 30+ years ago. Maybe a music lesson and some sport practice, but every year I think more and more families become involved in so much extra-curricula activity that is makes the school term itself harder to manage.

      Oh yes, school uniforms and changeover to the winter/summer uniforms too. And of course, kids that grow!! Busy mama you!

      Denyse x

  7. You have some great memories and perspective, having experienced holidays as a student, teacher.

    We don’t do too much during holidays and it’s nice sometimes not to rush anywhere. However, would like to get away some time this years. Fingers crossed!

    • Agree it must be nice not having to herd the boys out to school! I sure hope you get a break and a holiday too! Denyse x

  8. I meant as a student, teacher AND parent. Oops.

  9. I love four terms. What I love best about ACT is that every term is exactly 10 weeks. Always. So we don’t try and move things around public holidays etc. it’s so symmetrical! LOL. So easy to organise stuff. 10 weeks on, 2 weeks off, 10 weeks on, 2 weeks off. I love it.

    • Yes that is very sensible for the Nation’s capital to do that.

      Why oh why we do what we do in NSW is somewhat bound up in traditions I guess. The Board of Studies (it has a new name but I forget it) makes the terms fit around the required number of days students are to be in school. Those are on average 201 days.

      Then of course, there now gazetted school development days (student free); one at the beginning of Terms 1, 2 & 3 and 2 at the END of Term 4 BUT if schools want to arrange their school development days to other weekend or evening times during the year, they can to avoid ‘staying back’ for 2 days.

      Are you still with me!?
      Denyse x

  10. Mum always made our school holidays special Denyse. We didn’t have a car but we would catch the bus into the city and a ferry from Circular quay to Manly, then catch the bus home. In summer we had an above ground pool so my sister and I could invite one friend each and Mum would make a picnic lunch of devon sandwiches. There was the occasional movie. I know Mum went without a lot so we didn’t miss out. We only had one holiday every to Empire Bay where my uncle owned a holiday house. Dad had a heart attack after that holiday so we never ventured far after that. Thanks for the memories.

    • What special and sad memories you have Sue. Above ground pools were our starting point for backyard pools when our kids were young. They were the best!

      As for devon and tomato sauce sandwiches, I introduced my grandkids to them and they too enjoyed them at our house!

      You may not know this but Empire Bay was where we rented our first house for 10 months in 2015 when we sold up in Sydney. I have to say it holds very few positive memories for either of us as the house was not our style, it was far too expensive and the locals were just not friendly.

      I am so sorry to read that about your Dad.

      It is a different thing up here in the northern end of the coast and we are grateful to have moved.

      Denyse x

  11. I recall January school holidays at Bondi, a real treat for a kid from ‘the bush’. In later years I loved bringing home friends from boarding school, for them time on a sheep station was a real treat and they also enjoyed Mum’s good cooking after boarding school fare.

    • Ah that is the best! My husband’s grandparents lived in Bondi and when it was school holidays some of the family (he is one of 13!!) would venture for some special times there from their various school/houses in the bush.

      I imagine that must have been great for your visitors coming to your mum’s home and her cooking.

      Great memories! Thanks for sharing them.

      Denyse x

  12. Thanks, Denyse, for sharing your memories of school holidays. I used to play imaginative outdoor plays with my siblings or cousins or neighbour kids. Sometimes we went on a family trip.

    • Thank you Natalie. Yes, there were fun times when kids lived close by as neighbours and not every school holiday meant going somewhere!

      It was fun to have the time to explore too.

      Denyse x