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Simon Read: A shorter summer holiday <u>is </u>a good idea

Schooldays can be the best years of a child's life. Not just school holidays, you note, but the actual days and weeks of term when they – you know – learn stuff and muck around with their mates.

My boys, aged nine and 12, return from school full of new facts and tall tales or gossip. Conversations get more exciting when they're at school and eager to find out more about dinosaurs and bloody battles.

Sure they need a rest from academia but holidays don't half drag. Six weeks can seem like a lifetime when you're little. And with few parents able to afford a series of exciting holidays or activities, they soon lead to youthful complaints of "I'm bored".

Fewer holidays therefore clearly wouldn't be harmful to kids. Quite the opposite. But they would definitely be beneficial to parents. Apart from the financial considerations – which can be considerable in terms of childcare costs – there's also the fact that working families are hit. With schools having 12 weeks off, many working couples have to take it in turns to take leave. And that means family holidays have to be sacrificed. Which is bad news for parents and kids.

The author is a father of two and the personal finance editor at 'The Independent'