For all children, it's huge. We have to help them maximise the delight of freedom.
For the ordinary family there's a danger it seems like a problem. Unbelievably a stack of parents let it be known they're going to have to 'cope'. It may be that both parents (or the single if he/she is single) have to go to work. Thank goodness for holiday clubs. Or maybe one parent is a homemaker but not a Butlins Redcoat with a hoard of activities and equipment up their sleeve.
The cry; "I'm bored!" goes up within 72 hours of the break-up. But ordinary parents should do a bit of planning, and definitely not let their children get the impression that their parents would rather their children were in the care of someone else!
The same situation besets us in fostering, only more so. The child is probably used to being a nuisance, so the first big job is to say out loud how much you're looking forward to having them home, and the fun you're going to have.
We don't have to have a packed diary for them, it can be a good idea to have nothing arranged for the first week; let them blow themselves out, slow their metabolism down, get comfortable with their own company. They are usually on a bit of a high, especially at the start of the summer holiday (they keep muttering "Six weeks! Six weeks!").
Foster children often struggle more than most to entertain themselves, but the big difference between ordinaries and looked-afters is the scale of the extra freedoms school holidays deliver. Foster children, despite often suffering neglect, also often have little experience of the true nature of freedom; being trusted.
I encourage some things I don't normally agree to.
Sleepovers, or as I call them 'staywakeovers'. Sleepovers can stymie the child's sleep patterns for the next two days, but what the heck? They're mighty good fun and don't cost a cent. Obviously in fostering we take special care about the arrangements, but that doesn't intrude on the anarchy, because that's what sleepovers are; anarchy. Late nights, crisps in the bedroom, sleeping on the floor and above all, staying awake later than the grown-ups (or so they think).
Independence takes a leap forward in the Summer Holidays. They might cook the family meal by themselves, go to the corner shop unaccompanied for the first time, come back from the playground on their own, take their first bus, go to their first unsupervised Contact alone (ie see their sister for example, in McDonalds - with SW approval).
One lad we had stay with us underlined the importance of school holidays. It was his last year at school, and when he broke up he was free from school for ever. Two of his mates went to Ibiza, another of his gang had got himself a lucrative job on a building site. He lay in every morning until about midday, then got up and played computer games, making himself snacks until early evening when he went to the park to meet like-minded friends. The ones who, in his own words;
"Want to enjoy every minute of our last school summer holiday to the Max".