I’m an American mom living in London. School ends in mid-July and my kids don’t go to sleep-away camp.

    The author says London offers a lot of free things to do during the summer break.

    Courtesy of the author

    Summer camp culture doesn’t exist in the UK like it does in the US.Summer break is also shorter in the UK and school doesn’t finish until July. For my kids summer break is a patchwork of day clubs and activities. 

    Though I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker, I’ve been a London transplant since 2008.

    I had my four kids here — ages 6, 8, 11 and 13 — and am often struck by how culturally different the UK and US can feel, from childbirth to education.

    Summer break also looks a lot different for my kids than my summers going to Camp Mohawk in upstate New York used to. Here are three key differences I’ve noticed between summer break for kids in the UK vs the US.

    School lasts through most of July in the UK – and summer holidays are shorter here

    As someone with a mid-July birthday, I never once had an “in-school” celebration as a kid. If I’d grown up in London, things would have been different: in England, the summer term runs through most of July for state school kids (the equivalent of public school in the US). Even those attending private schools, which break up a couple of weeks earlier, finish the first week of July.

    Kids typically have six weeks of rest before the new academic year starts up again the first few days of September.

    This is in stark contrast to the US, where the school year finishes between May and June, and summer break can be 10 or 11 weeks long.

    Summer camp culture looks very different in the UK

    The UK isn’t immune to US influences, but summer camp culture hasn’t quite made it over here yet. While some families send their kids to sleep-away camps, it’s only for a couple of days or a week. Not like in the US when kids go for several weeks in a row.

    Instead, families in the UK tend to take a patchwork approach to the summer holidays, mixing and matching different day camps and activities which they sandwich around family getaways.

    There is a day camp to suit every interest in London: cooking, cricket, fashion, drama, film, skateboarding, and much more. Parents tend to book kids in for half days, a couple of full days or a week at a time.

    Last year, my three older kids did a range of activities across their summer, starting with a week of cricket camp at the beginning (and again at the end), with several cricket matches in between.

    We went to Portugal for a family holiday and they spent their mornings in golf camp, then visited their grandparents in the English countryside and Devon coast. For the final week of summer break, we visited my sister and her family in Munich.

    It was lovely and jam-packed — so much so that this year, we’re keeping it more low-key by staying in England the whole summer.

    Unlike the US, where summer camp bookings are mega-competitive, getting an activity camp slot in London feels more accessible. You can be spontaneous, especially if you’re looking to book into a club in mid-August, when many families are on holiday.

    This works well for me if my freelance workload gets hectic or one of my kids decides they want to try something out in a low-pressure way.

    London in summer is full of fun, free and discounted experiences

    We love seeing family over the summer and getting to the coast or countryside for a few days, but truthfully, I think August in London is my favorite time to explore the city with my kids.

    Unlike New York, it’s not overly muggy and humid, and since it’s quieter than usual, we tend to go further afield and explore new things.

    The kids splash around fountains and paddling pools, go to free exhibitions and pop-ups, eat out (lots of restaurants in the city offer kids free meals in the summer), and go to the theatre, thanks to an initiative called Kids Week, where kids can go free to a range of West End musicals and plays when accompanied by a paying adult.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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