Spring 2024

Counsellor’s Corner: Home for the holidays? Some reasons students prefer school to home

Happy New Year!  Cheers to 2024!

In this first issue of the new year, after a very much-needed rest and reprieve from the at times frenetic energy of a school environment, I extend a warm welcome to students, staff and readers, all eager to get resume their routine.

Upon my return from my holiday break – a combination of rest and relaxation; general holiday busy-ness; family visits and Christmas hosting and fun; sprinkled with a touch of illness running through the family – I anticipated encountering a few sluggish students disheartened to be back in school and missing home.  While this was true for some, as there were in fact sluggish students and staff, I was quite surprised at the number of students who were happy to be back. 

The Guidance office saw a steady influx of students during the first days back from break. In our case, the first day of school was Monday, January 8, 2024.  I had many students checking in steadily on those first few days back; in full uniform; ready to talk. 

For certain students, being sent home for the holidays, whether we’re talking holiday, spring or summer break, is not always met with enthusiasm.  In speaking with my Child and Youth Worker, who was as equally excited as I for our Christmas holiday, we discussed the diverse ways in which students perceive a “break” from school.  The truth is we, as teachers, guidance counsellors and administration, need to understand the depth of what school means for some students on a daily basis.  Primarily, schools serve as safe havens where students feel cared for.  When students come to school and step into the Student Services/Guidance Department, they are met with caring and compassionate adults who are eager to listen and assist.

 Although many students have a similar support system at home, some do not.  To further exacerbate the issue, we need to remember that many of these students spent extended periods at home with their families during the Covid pandemic.  So, while attending school for some may be a chore, for many it is not.  School offers its students a daily refuge.  School is a place where students are surrounded by peers (they don’t even need to be friends). The social interactions students engage in at school creates for many a sense of camaraderie and a shared experience.  School is a place where students have the privilege of going to class and learning, some of which they like and even those they don’t care for.  School offers structure and a sense of routine that holidays at home may lack.  Sometimes, the formality and structure a school adheres to is what many students crave and may or may not be getting at home.  School also offers extra-curricular clubs, activities, events and sports for students to participate in.  Finally, schools connect students with safe and caring adults, including teachers and counsellors who offer support without judgment, anger, or consequence.

To any students who might be sitting in their school’s guidance office today and happened to pick up this magazine and read this piece, please know that we see you and if we don’t, please remind us.  If there is an upcoming holiday or school break that is making you uncomfortable for any reason, please talk to your guidance counsellor about strategies on how to cope and enjoy the break.   Please continue to talk to us about how you are feeling; what your goals, hopes, and fears are.  Let us listen to you in a safe place. Let school be your refuge and come find comfort in the support system that is offered by your teachers and school staff.  I recognize this cliché but we are all in this together.  If school is your safe place, let your counsellor know.   If you have an amazing teacher this semester whom you trust, please keep attending their class, keep asking questions, and keep talking.  Your future is bright and worth working hard for and we, your guidance counsellors are here to help you get to your next destination. Day by day and semester by semester, we are here to help you achieve those goals, not only in classes but also during breaks.  Cheers to 2024! And, more importantly, cheers to YOU!

By: Anna Macri