by Head of Upper School Colleen Welsh
When I was in elementary school, I lived in a small town in a house located near the town center. Dating myself, I will also tell you that this was back before the advent of cell phones, email and electronic alerts. When school was cancelled due to snow, the town fire department blasted the fire horn three short blasts followed by a pause and then three more. There was no sweeter sound to the school age children in town than to wake to the blast of that fire horn. In the same way, most students and truth be told, most teachers feel the same way when the phone call comes from Pike on a snowy morning.
As I sat drinking a leisurely cup of coffee during the last snow day, I contemplated why this particular type of day off elicits such feelings of joyful release. I believe that there are several components to a snow day that make it so. First, it is unplanned. There are so few times in our overscheduled, busy lives that we have the opportunity to have our plans for the day be cancelled – literally. This sudden cancellation precludes feeling the need to fill the day with a list of other productive activities. Suddenly, its fine to read a book, stay in your pjs until noon (or all day), bake, watch a movie, play board games or just goof off. Secondly, and most important, is that everyone else is faced with the same situation. You don’t run the risk of feeling like you are an underachiever if you haven’t planned a culturally enriching event, vacation or worthwhile project for a day off.
I know that many schools are adopting the practice of “blizzard bags” as a way to ameliorate the effect of snow days on the length of the school year. While I understand the intent and would certainly consider such an alternative in a year when there were an inordinate number of snow days, I am wary of eliminating the concept of a snow day altogether. Play, rest and unstructured time are rarities in our lives and yet research shows that all three of these are critical to maintaining positive mental and physical health. Therefore, I am thankful for the blessing of a snow day and the next time I get that welcome alert I will be happily enjoying some found time. I hope you and your children will too!
The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page.