Anytime there’s a break from our regular classroom routine, there’s a period of re-adjustment. Winter Break is no different! After spending a few weeks going to sleep at who knows what time… waking up late… and eating ALL THE THINGS, getting back into ANY sort of routine is going to be especially difficult. I’m not talking only about the kiddos here! Getting back from Winter Break is hard for us adults too. That’s why we should plan ahead and avoid any unexpected meltdowns or surprises.
Let Them Share
The first thing we can do to ease the pain is to let our babies share. When students return from break many of them return UBER excited! They can’t wait to tell you or their friends where they’ve been, what they’ve done, or what games they’ve played. Some kiddos are just excited to be back and that alone spikes their energy levels.
Plan time at the beginning of the day for students to talk about their break or simply share what’s on their minds or in their hearts. You can even have them journal for a few minutes so they have an idea about what they’re going to talk about. Don’t forget to share what you did during your break too! I know my kiddos love it when I tell them about my family or what my dogs have been up to. This is a great opportunity to connect with your babies and help bring back that classroom community that you worked so hard for the first few months of the school year.
Set Goals For The New Year
One of the things I love about returning to class in January is that it’s a chance to start fresh! Talk to your students about goals. What comes really easy to them? What are they good at? What area do they need to grow in? What did they struggle with during the first half of the year? This would be a great time to have some deep collaborative conversations with your kiddos. Setting goals is not an easy task! But reflecting on 2018 and what they can do to make the second half of the year better is a great start. I usually like to spend some time the first week back reflecting on the past year with these New Years activities for kids. We also work together to come up with math, reading, and writing goals!
Review Rules + Routines
After being gone for a few days, everyone needs a few basic reminders. So think back to the first week of school… Take a few minutes to go over your 5 classroom rules (or however many rules you have). You can even make it fun by role-playing! Or perhaps even play a game of charades where a student acts out a rule and the rest of the class tries to guess the rule. Don’t forget to also go over your policy for sharpening pencils during the day, using the bathroom, and walking in the halls. Although your kiddos left for break well trained, you’ll notice that when they return it’s like they have a slice case of amnesia.
Out With The Old + In With The New
Usually, the return from break also signals the start of a new semester. So what better time to clean out those folders and messy papers falling out of students desks. On the first day back set aside some time to clean house. Have students remove everything from inside their desks. Then have them go through every folder and crumpled up paper. Any work from the first 2 semesters that they no longer need should be removed. Have them recycle old papers or take them home.
Next up… school supplies! This is usually the time of year when I pass back the extra supply baggies I collected from each student at the beginning of the year. I collect any broken crayons and students replenish the supplies they keep at their desk. If I notice that a student needs more highlighters or pencils for the second half of the year, I simply send THIS note home to parents. Taking some time out now to organize and stock up on school supplies helps to keep chaos in check.
Time To Review
I can pretty much guarantee that when you return from Winter Break the kids are going to be tired, you’re going to be tired, parents are going to be tired… heck we’re all going to be a mess of tired zombies walking around. That’s why the first few days are ideal for review. Rather than jumping into new material on day 1, use the day to not only review rules + routines, but review material students are already familiar with. This would be a great time to whip out some task cards and play a game of scoot. You could also play some multiplication games to get your students’ math juices flowing. Try to make the first day back as fun and exciting as the first day of school!
Before you know it, you and your students will be back on track and ready to tackle the remainder of the year!
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