Tell me it’s almost winter break time at your elementary school without telling me it’s almost winter break time at your elementary school. People with shortened attention spans, people easily excited, people easily brought to tears…and that’s just the adults! All kidding aside, it’s needless to say that the energy in the air is likely boundless and palpable. For many students the excitement that comes with the pending winter break stems from things like the anticipation of special times with family, presents, and Santa Claus. For others, it could be quite the contrary. For many children, winter break means the unwelcome disruption of otherwise predictable and safe routines of school. For some, more time at home may mean more time with an unstable family member, and even food or care insecurity.
The painful reality is that we cannot control what goes on outside of our classrooms.
What we can do, though, is provide support and work to keep our kids’ stress levels low while maintaining as joyful & peaceful of an environment as possible.
Here are a few ideas:
- Share resources
Bring families that may need resources when school is out of session to the attention of your school’s social worker or administration. Local food pantries, childcare providers, ride-share companies, toy-give-away programs, and more are out there, waiting to be tapped into. Sometimes, folks may just need to be connected with and pointed in the right direction to get the extra hand that they may need.
- Stay consistent
Within the classroom, stay as consistent as possible with routines and rules during the weeks leading up to winter break (and any break, for that matter!). Whenever things get busy and out of the norm, students tend to misbehave the most. Try as hard as possible to stay in your normal routines and gently review classroom expectations as often as you can.
- Share ‘previews’ of upcoming, fun holiday activities
When you do have a change to your schedule or day, take a few minutes to discuss what’s coming. ‘Surprising’ students with special activities like school assemblies, class parties or a jolly, white-bearded visitor might sound fun in theory, but could be a big trigger for many children. Letting your kids know what’s coming and how will look will give them time to process what’s coming next.
- Provide more ‘brain breaks’
Because students are more antsy and easily distracted this time of year, they may need more movement and fun ‘brain-breaks’ than usual. “But we have too much to get to…I don’t have time to give my students breaks!” Really? Proactively giving your students an outlet for their excitement or pent-up emotions is bound to keep their behavior in check and allow for the rest of the day to be productive.
- Check your own mood
Children are like sponges, and they’re very adept at soaking up the emotions of those around them. Remembering to smile, to stay present, to be slow to anger, to address your students by name when greeting them and when sending them off and the end of the day are priceless.
Want to learn about how GrapeSEED’s curriculum can help build routines and keep children engaged? Click the contact us link below.