Terms and holidays

Nearly two years ago we published a series of articles on the Australian education system. Since then we’ve published a number of ebooks that help relocating families with the transition to Australian school life.

When Mum started this blog our children weren’t yet at school; now I’m officially a school mum and two years later I feel much more at ease with the rhythm of school life in Australia, and in particular Sydney.

Ten week terms and two week holidays

The diagram I’m sharing below highlights the fundamentals of the Australian academic year. We have also shared this information in School days: the best years of your life and our Australian education ebook; A Smooth Switch to Australian Schooling. This diagram represents how things work in New South Wales (Sydney) and most other Australian states – Northern Territory and Tasmania may differ.

Australian academic year

Coming from the Northern Hemisphere, one of the most significant differences for children, and parents of school-age children, is the long ten week terms you’ll experience in Australia. In the UK, for example, school terms tend to be broken up by one week holidays (called half term holidays) – the longest term you’ll experience in the UK is usually eight weeks.

Since living in Sydney, we’ve realised that ten week terms can be tough on everyone, in particular primary age children. Term Two in NSW has a few public holidays which help everyone get through to the end of term, but other terms can drag on, and parents are dragging children into class by week nine.

Australian school holidays

On a positive note, we thoroughly enjoy our two week holidays. In Sydney, we’ve observed a routine in how families spend their holiday time.

The Easter school holidays tend to be spent at home, enjoying Easter activities and the last of the warm weather. The July school holidays are mostly about visiting the snow in Australia or New Zealand, or travelling overseas – Bali is an Aussie favourite at this time of year. For Mum, July is also a great time for cultural and educational activities like visiting museums and galleries – with everyone at the snow or in Bali, it’s a quiet and pleasant time to get around. September holidays may be used in the same way, depending on the weather. Sydney Children’s Festival runs across the September school holidays; if you don’t live in Sydney it’s a great time to visit.

For Mum, the September \ Spring holidays are the best (if the weather is dry). After the winter holidays and long winter term, we come out of hibernation and the start of spring means these holidays are about spending as much time as possible outdoors.  In The great Australian school holiday hijack, Mum explains why the six week summer holidays at the end of the year don’t feel as long and relaxing as they should.

How about you? Since relocating to Australia, how have you and your children settled into the rhythm of school life? Do you enjoy the academic year in Aus? How does it differ from your country of origin? Thank you.

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