When the countdown is on to holiday break and distractions abound, it can be truly challenging to keep students engaged during the holiday season. Holiday activities like concerts, plays and class parties can fill the days and take away from learning time, not to mention all the special treats, cookies and candies that are difficult to escape and wreak havoc on attention.
No one wants to muffle the joy of the season, but for teachers, it’s a tall order to balance having plenty of holiday fun with still accomplishing classroom objectives. Never fear though! With some thoughtful planning and prep, it can indeed be done (and it never hurts to remember to pack your patience and sense of humor as you head off to school each day)!
How to Keep Students Engaged During the Holidays
Kids may tell you the best part of being at school during the holiday season is all the parties and treats, but there are actually many ways to make learning fun and incorporate the season into the classroom. Here we four ideas for keeping students engaged during the holiday season:
1. Lean in to the chaos
Rather than fight the disruptions and distractions, one way to succeed in keeping students focused during the holidays is to lean into the chaos that comes along with it.
For example, host a holiday party and have the students actively participate in all aspects including planning, decorations, snacks and clean up. Let the kids know they have to work to earn this special event and work to make it a hit. Another idea is to read holiday books and build a class lesson plan around each story, whether it be related to math, a science experiment or writing and grammar.
2. Incorporate lots of movement
Giving kids plenty of opportunities to get their energy out will go a long way in keeping them engaged and ready to learn.
As you are planning your lessons, think of ways your students could “act out the material,” such as doing jumping jacks as part of a lesson about addition or having them do charades during a spelling lesson. Take the class on a tour of the school to find real-life examples of colors, numbers or words. Whenever possible and weather permitting, going outdoors as part of a lesson can be a literal and figurative breath of fresh air for everyone and can also feel like a very special treat.
3. Stick to the plan
Children thrive on a schedule, as any parent can tell you after the first few weeks of summer break have passed and boredom and restlessness have set in. Even during the holidays, or especially so, it’s important to keep students on a normal schedule and stay as close to your regular class plan as possible.
Though the subject matter of the plan or the material covered may be altered to accommodate for the holidays, kids will do best when they know they can count on the familiarity and safety of their routine at school. This security will help them focus and will pay dividends for all.
4. Embrace the spirit of giving
This is a chance to learn a lasting lesson, provide a feel-good experience for all and embrace the true spirit of the season. Contact your school administrators or organizations in the community to find out about ways your students can give back during the season, and then work with your class to fulfill the acts of service.
If two or three ideas seem most fitting, you can discuss them with the class and have students share the reasons why they would select one opportunity over another. Then, the kids can work together to plan how to bring the mission to life and ensure all aspects are covered. Having students invested in something so meaningful will surely keep them engaged and result in learning that goes beyond the classroom.
Discover Inspiration for Your Classroom
Keeping your students engaged during the holiday season can be tough for teachers, but with the right approach, it can be a joyful and rewarding time for all. Browse GEDDES and find ideas and inspiration for your classroom, including holiday trinkets that may also come in handy as extra motivation for staying on task. Contact us today or request a school supply catalog and learn more about all the options from Raymond Geddes.