Today schools go back for many kids around the country - those starting for the first time, those returning for their final year, those heading back for more of the same.

It is, after eight long weeks, a welcome juncture for us parents. By the time we've done the eight-week break, plus the public holiday, plus the teacher-only days for good measure, it seems not before time that classroom doors get opened for business.

But it does pose the question, again, of whether our school term times work in this country.

Why are they sitting in a classroom in the hottest month of the year? I feel for these kids. God knows how unproductive I feel in this heat, and I'm not wearing roman sandals and lugging a super heavy school bag full of books on my back. Hot steamy days in humid classrooms with hot and bothered teachers, mixed with kids who're being asked to do the last thing you feel like doing in this heat: sitting still.



For the few lucky ones who may have a classroom replete with airconditioning, or positioned well for a good breeze through an open window, that's great, but they still have to get outside at morning tea and lunch and sit in searing heat.

Trying not to burn, crowding into the shade, while eating a warm wilted sandwich, sweating in your viscose. Then it's back inside for more lessons, staring at a glarey whiteboard and trying to listen to the teacher over the hum of cicadas outside. That summer chorus synonymous with the beach and ice cream, not the turning of pages and the scratching of pencils. Kids are tired, hot and grumpy.

Though tough on them, it's the teachers I really feel for. I know that trying to cajole a house full of hot kids in this heat is bad enough, goodness only knows how you actually impart meaningful instruction to a classroom full of them.

That's before we get to the smell. Hot sweaty children, en masse - it's not pretty.

And then there's the littlies. Days are long when you first start school. When my daughter started her first day of school, I recall her surprise when we announced on day two, that she was going back again.

"Why?" she replied, "I've already been."

Establishing the pattern that this is a daily grind, this new world order of relentless attendance, is hard yards. Add into it the heat, and the unappealing droopy lunchbox contents, and you've got a recipe that most 5-year-olds aren't that keen on. That's before we get to their huge backpack, new uniform and clumpy orthopaedic-style shoes.


So what would work better?

Well certainly being on holiday in February would make more sense given that's when the hottest weather kicks in. Keeping kids in school a tad longer than early December would also help families with Christmas planning and holiday organisation. Most parents are still working up until Christmas, despite kids being off much earlier, which means increased childcare costs and increased pressure and stress at an already pressured and stressed time.

I know the school term issue gets kicked around every so often, but I can't help wondering, as I wave hot sweaty kids off into hot sweaty classrooms, to sit for six hours in front of hot sweaty teachers, whether it's time to put some heat on the debate again.