Clearly, the new 2019 calendar is proof that the holidays are over for a while, but kids are still wound up from their winter celebrations. It is a challenge to get kids settled down, but it is a job that must be done. To help kids refocus on their studies, parents and teachers can use several techniques.
Start at Home
Getting back into a regular routine at home is one key step required for kids to find success at school. Start with one task that needs to be done: putting away all the holiday décor. Parents and children can work together to pack up the tree’s decorations and store the lawn ornaments and lights. New presents need to find their new homes! During the days following New Year’s, help your kids to place their gifts in proper spots. Have the children gather and sort discarded boxes and wrapping paper for recycling.
As you clean house, have your children organize the supplies they will be needing to return to school. This is a great time to start talking to your kids about their expectations (and yours) for the rest of the school year. You may want to doublecheck your youngsters’ bookbags and folders for clutter or important papers that may have been overlooked during the hustle bustle of winter break’s onset. Hopefully, your child does not discover any homework that has been neglected! If that shock surprises you and your student, have your child plan for how it will get done before school resumes. In addition to organizing school supplies, have your child straighten clothes in the closet and dresser drawers. Get your child to start thinking about that first day back by asking what he or she plans to wear. Try on any new clothes before that day arrives!
Back to Bedtime
It is likely that your child’s sleep routine has been disrupted over the course of winter break. Begin to gradually return to normal by going to bed earlier each night and arising earlier as well. Travel plans may make doing all this difficult, but you can make the transition easier by setting forth clear expectations for how your family will go about the routine once you have returned home.
In the Classroom
Some of these tips for refocusing students on learning carry over right into the classroom. Just as your own home has been stripped of holiday decorations, your classroom needs to be too! That can take a lot of time from a teacher. Hold off on trying to manage that feat all by yourself. Instead, have a list of tasks that groups of students can tackle for you. Kids like to redecorate their learning environment, and this activity will give them a feeling of ownership in the classroom. You may be a perfectionist, hesitating in allowing students to do this work for you, but when you see how much time you save yourself, you will realize that your youngsters can be an enormous help.
Comics to the Rescue
While redecorating the room will give the kids an opportunity to chat with one another about their winter break experience, you may want to have them do this in a more structured activity. Students can create comic strips with panels detailing what major events took place during the holidays. Post these on the bulletin board or in the hallway for others to see. Another way for kids to hear about what everyone did is to have a kind of scavenger hunt. Create a worksheet with questions like these: Who traveled to another state? Who saw a relative that had not been seen for over a year? Who received exactly what was wanted for Christmas? Who already broke a gift? Give students a time limit to find a person who applies to each question. Challenge them to use each student only once on their list.
With the new year comes new units of study. Preview what is going to be taught over the next few weeks. Consider showing students a slide show of what they will be reading and writing and what new concepts they will tackle in their course books. Now is also the time to administer any pretests for the units that you are about to begin. These will not only inform you of what students know already, but pretests are ways for you to track growth. You will want to measure your students’ progress, so this kind of information is vital.
Getting back into the swing of things is tough on kids and adults. It happens naturally for very few people. Take the time to decide how you plan to resume the routine before that first day back arrives and you will start off on the right foot!