going back to school after break sm For most students, January means a return to school after a winter vacation. Because there are few three-day weekends or other interruptions, the months between winter and spring breaks are the time when teachers plan to put the pedal to the metal. “I consider it the push time because I can really get kids to make progress in these weeks,” says Dawn Christiana, a veteran elementary teacher and national educational consultant. “But it means I need to have kids who are ready to get back into our routines quickly and work harder than they did before break.” With holiday festivities, late movie nights and sleeping in behind you, it is time to get down to business this month. These tips will help you get your family in the back-to-school mode and give your kids the tools they need to have a “ready, set, go” attitude in the New Year. Unplug and Get those ZZZs
Much like summer, winter break brings loosened reins on TV, computer and other media. It’s easy for kids to become night owls when they know they can sleep in the next morning. Both of these habits can make the first week back to school challenging, even for the most motivated student. Before sending him back to the grind, taper back on screen time and ease back to a reasonable bedtime. Remember Breakfast
If your family adopts a “fend-for-yourself” attitude about breakfast during vacations, it’s time to change gears. Healthy, filling breakfasts are one of the most important factors in a child’s ability to focus in class. If he arrives at school hungry, he will likely be sluggish and distracted from the get-go. If the breakfast he did eat consisted of sugary cereal or doughnuts on the fly, he will often experience an energy decline an hour into the day. Start his day off right with a nutritious and filling breakfast, such as oatmeal or toast with peanut butter. Get Organized
Take inventory of your child’s school supplies. Does he need refills on paper or pencils? Is his binder exploding with old papers and pages of doodles? Does his backpack have granola bar wrappers crumpled at the bottom? Help him return to school with pencils sharpened and notebook organized. His teacher will thank you! Read…
and not just with your child. Get back into the habit of scanning the notes that come home from school. For many kids, their initial enthusiasm for filing these notes in an organized way will have waned. Take the time each day to check for letters and flyers from the school. Though some of it may not be pertinent, this habit will make life much easier for everyone when the time comes for permission slips to be turned in or conferences to be scheduled. Check In
You may have had a parent-teacher conference just before the holiday season. If not, take a moment this month to check in with the teacher about your child’s progress, especially if you have concerns. It is still early enough in the year to work on behavior or skills that are holding him back from reaching his full potential in his current grade. If you are confident your child is cruising along quite nicely, a quick email to ask his teacher if there is anything you need to know or can do at home will help keep the lines of communication open. Back to Homework
Just like at the start of the year, your child will have to get back into the habit of regular homework. So will you. Decide if what you were doing in the fall was the best schedule for fitting in homework, and reconfigure it if necessary. The more often you can make yourself available to help your child, the better. ———————-
Stephanie Dethlefs is a freelance writer. Going back to school after a long break can be a daunting task, especially if you were in school and decided to take a break. However, there are a few easy things you can do to make the process easier and less stressful. It involves planning ahead, and building support systems in your life. Teachers and students alike tend to dread going back to school after a long break. Whether it is summer break, winter break, or even spring break, going school after a long break can be a stressful proposition. If you have been away from school even longer, a whole new set of anxieties. However, there are some easy things you can do make your start back to school stress-free.

Plan Ahead, and Save Some Stress

Before going back to school, be sure to plan ahead. There are lots of details in your life that can make going back to school stressful, especially after a long break. Getting those in order can smooth the way for you to transition back to school. For example, if you are working and going back to school you are not alone. A Georgetown study found in 2011-2012 about sixty-percent of college students work at least 30 hours a week while enrolled in college. Twenty-six percent of those students were working full-time. If you are amongst this group, it is important to plan ahead when going back to college. Be sure you have a plan in place not just for how you will get to your classes every week, and work your job. You also need to have a plan in place for how you will get your coursework done as well. Going back to school after a long break may mean you need to talk to your advisor and discuss how much work is involved in the courses you are planning to take. Another option is asking for a copy of the course syllabus from previous sections of the course, so you can have a better idea what the work involved will be. You don’t want to bite off more than you can handle because that is counterproductive to your ultimate goal of graduating college. woman talking Another aspect you can plan for is creating a support system to help you be successful. For example, if you have children plan ahead for their care. If you have class, and they get sick, who can help you look after them in the interim? Or on the flip side, if you get stuck at work or need extra time to yourself who can help care for your family? Do you have grandparents, parents, or even in-laws who can step in and lend a hand? Building a support system is important because you will likely need to rely on these people to keep your life running smoothly during the hectic periods of mid-terms and final exams as well.

Get Into the Routine Before You Go Back to School

Before you start school, go ahead and start getting yourself back into a school routine even before you start. If you have a family, this is even more important because it is not just you who will have to find a new rhythm in your household. For example, you may create a weekly priorities routine to help you, those in your life, to determine the priorities for the week and make sure you have all your bases covered. Students talking Setting a weekly priorities list could mean looking at your course syllabus and the work you need to accomplish that week, and setting a plan for what needs to be done in order of importance. The plan could even include any church, family, or work events you are involved with. You can easily get into this habit before your classes start, so that by the time school starts it is part of your normal routine. Your weekly priorities list could even include where each item on the list will be done. For example, do you need to spend some time at the library? Or perhaps your kids have events at school you want to attend. How will your child get to their soccer game while you have class? Having a family meeting to review the priorities of the week will make sure everyone is on the same team.

Don’t Procrastinate

The reality is that only about fifty-six percent of people who start a degree finish their program of study. These statistics can be daunting; you can be successful. However, it requires you to diligently manage your school, work, and home lives. Just like you may have a work schedule, plan a school schedule. Once you have your weekly priorities list, budget exactly when and where you will get your school tasks completed. Sometimes this is painful if you are a born procrastinator, but you want to consider the consequences of procrastination. Poor grades or not finishing your degree can have consequences for yourself in terms of missed opportunities. It could even impact your family or future family financially. student studying Be specific in your plan as well. Will you do some school work on your lunch hour? Do you plan to get a grandparent to babysit one night a week so you can work on your more difficult coursework? When you’re tired from work and school, sticking to the plan can be hard. However, if you have a clear goal in your reason for being at school, that will motivate you through those tough days.

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The resources to thrive—and the laughs to survive—as an educator.

A girl enjoys her break from school Keep your relaxing experiences from the break with you when you return to the classroom. Yeah! A midyear break! You needed some time off from the intensity and nonstop action of being a classroom teacher. But returning to work, and all its responsibilities, after vacation will creep up on you. One thing is for certain: No matter how you spend your holiday, all midyear breaks end. And if you’re not prepared, the first day back from a vacation—especially those that are longer than a week—can be tough. After all, students tend to forget things when they’re away from the classroom and it’s easy to become an out-of-shape teacher. Further Reading: 3 Essential Steps to Take a True Vacation from Teaching But you can fight off a post-vacation slump. Here are three tips to keep in mind when you’re returning to school after a well-deserved break.

Complete Ongoing Work before the Break

Before the break begins, finish up any projects and units. Trying to pick up where you left off will likely not be met with enthusiasm: «Um, what was that again?» «I thought we finished this.» «I left that notebook at home.» I’ve made the mistake of leaving projects open over a long break countless times, and I won’t make it again. Revving students back up with old material is like eating week-old leftovers—nobody wants them! Finish off the class novel, the essay assignment, or the math unit before you head out. Plan celebrations or formal unit endings (tests, quizzes, and presentations) a few days before the break begins in case any kids take off early. Then, after vacation, you’ll all be ready to start something new.

Have a Game Plan for When You Return

It’s also important to make detailed lesson plans so you know exactly what to do when you return to the classroom. Plan fun and captivating activities that are both academic and recreational to get your students reacquainted with classroom life. You can even use experiences from the vacation to inspire creativity. For instance, try writing a class story about what happens in the building when the school is closed. Or create a math problem that relates to what your students did during their time away. Make whatever you’re planning interesting, amusing, and relevant to your students’ lives. This will bring them right back into the rhythm of the classroom and get you back into your groove as well.

Get Back into the Swing of Things Early

This final tip has nothing to do with your students; it’s all about you. Like many teachers, I get up early. It’s a routine I’ve developed over many years. I shower at night, so in the morning, I wake up, have a glass of water, stretch, do some calisthenics, pack my lunch, eat breakfast, and then head out the door. Whether you have a habit of showering and then drinking a cup of coffee, or going for a quick run around the block, follow that same morning routine for a day or two before your vacation ends. Remind your body and mind of what you need to do, and on that first day back, you’ll feel ready and energetic. By setting your alarm on Sunday, the Monday after vacation won’t feel like it came out of nowhere. A year ago, studies were interrupted only by vacations. However, the global pandemic has made its adjustments and has led to the suspension of studies at many colleges and universities. Now tens of thousands of students have learned to study remotely and to find help online, or to write on their own papers on any topic. However, many institutions are returning to the standard system. And students also need to properly enter the learning routine. A busy schedule, a lot of responsibility, the need to communicate with many people and solve many problems at once, studying at night – the main factors that often put a student in a state of stress. According to the latest report from the Co-SPACE study, many children’s need to learn remotely has caused problems with attention and mental health. To avoid this, you need to gradually enter the training, avoiding a sharp change in pace and fullness of life. Topical issues that concern people who have had a long break in their studies:

  • Where to start?
  • How to restore the previous rhythm?
  • What steps need to be taken?
  • How to switch to the new mode and schedule?

It is often difficult for students who have become accustomed to classes during the holidays to return to the learning process. After all, when free time from lessons becomes only a memory, re-motivation of students can be a real challenge for both teachers and students themselves. Therefore, we have prepared tips for both students and teachers to help re-enter the curriculum.

For Students

The driving force of the educational process in school is the student’s desire to learn. It promotes the development of intelligence and is a major factor in improving the personality as a whole. To achieve the maximum desire and opportunity to learn, we advise you to take the next steps.

Pay attention to proper nutrition

According to research, on vacation we usually allow ourselves more harmful foods, so the digestive system needs to be restored. Here is an interesting article about nutrition while traveling. If there are no contraindications, you can seasonally take multivitamins, which help increase the body’s adaptability.

Do not be half-faced, maximize your vacation

While on vacation, try to enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Allow yourself to discard all things related to school: such as textbooks, school assignments or something else. It’s okay to occasionally remember a lesson that fascinated you, but don’t let it make your vacation boring.

Establish a strategy before entering school

Going back to school after a long vacation can be exciting for some and horrible for others. To avoid the second situation, try to make a strategy for your return. Do not return home a day or two before school. Try to give yourself a break after the rest, so you can get used to the atmosphere of the house. Yes, if school starts on Monday, return from vacation on Thursday or Friday. That way, you have plenty of time to rest on the weekends before you finally get back to school. So to prepare even more, start reading small school lessons. Do a warm-up before school.

Remember everything good at school

One way to improve your mood after the holidays is to continue to radiate a positive aura. One of the experts, Enrique, advises trying to remember interesting things you did with friends, teachers or others instead of focusing on the complexity of a topic. Be it joint task performance, joint game, etc. This will increase the desire to return to school.

Enter smoothly

On vacation, you are accustomed to activities that are slow, relaxed and not burdened with lessons or school work, which makes the mind more relaxed. After returning to the school procedure, the body and mind will be unconsciously forced to follow the previous rhythm, which can be fast and tiring. It is important not to let the spirit fall. To avoid this, try not to study too hard, give the mind and body time to recover. When resting, rest properly. Enjoy the fresh air around you and don’t worry about the complexity of math or economics.

Make plans for the next vacation

The holidays are over, it doesn’t mean the world is over. Especially while the earth is still spinning. Think about how fun your vacation was yesterday, and start thinking about other exciting things you could do on your next vacation. Mark a calendar, find a time when you will have even longer vacations and plan them. This way, you will be delighted to study and save money so that you can take another vacation.

For Teachers

Do not repeat the previous program immediately

Often, teachers’ biggest mistake is to immerse themselves in the curriculum of what the children learned before the holidays. Leading psychologists and neurologists recommend an informal approach. Students are primarily interested in what classmates did during the holidays, rather than a pre-prepared lesson plan, so children should be given time to re-adapt in the team: to communicate with peers and share their impressions of free time.

No essays about vacations

Nevertheless, the story of the holidays should not be a formal part of the learning process, much less be appreciated by the teacher. Psychologists advise communicating about free time informally, outside the program, primarily verbally, and to give children the task to write an essay like “How I spent the summer” or “How I met the New Year” will only prevent the teacher to set students up for learning.

Short-term goals

Allow students to set their own short-term goals. It’s not about big ambitions, it’s about small achievements: from improving grades in specific subjects to reading a certain book. If the child chooses a goal, it will make it easier to get used to the learning process. For so many teachers and students, returning after winter break can feel like the first day of school all over again. The routines, rules, and procedures that were once so familiar are now a distant memory, and it takes a conscious effort to get back into rhythm with them. For this reason, facilitating a smooth transition back into the classroom from winter break requires deliberate planning. Here are seven simple, actionable ways teachers can make this transition a positive one. 1. Plan something to look forward to. Now is a great time to initiate a service project that includes a high level of student involvement. Fun increases engagement and inspires students to reinvest in their learning. Educators can integrate service activities into the curriculum in a variety of ways. Additionally, learning through service offers students an opportunity to help others while benefiting from the experience. 2. Engage students in personal and/or academic goal setting. We often associate the start of a new year with resolutions; however, we also know most resolutions will be broken. When we engage students in meaningful goal-setting opportunities and establish small checkpoints along the way, students are more likely to see the value of their effort and work toward obtaining the goal. 3. Provide socialization time. Students have not seen each other for a couple of weeks. Set aside time for them to reunite and discuss their time apart. Consider a welcome-back activity that gives students an opportunity to share their winter break experience, incorporates movement and choice, and sets the tone for an awesome rest of the year. Try this whole-group activity: Play music while students mingle around the classroom. When the music stops, students pair up and swap stories. Repeat this activity a few times so that students get to talk to numerous classmates. Part of the post-holiday buzz is the excitement of reconnecting! 4. Ease into academic demands. The anxiety of getting through the academic curriculum by the end of the year creates an extra level of stress for educators, which too often transfers into increased workloads for our students. They may not be prepared emotionally or mentally for a tough assignment the moment they return. Give them a little more time to transition back into learning mode. Consider some reflection activities that can help students regroup and ease back into their learning. 5. Review expectations and routines. After an extended absence from the classroom, students may have forgotten procedures and routines that effectively support a positive learning environment. Taking time to reestablish expectations and reteach routines helps anchor students as they learn and grow. Reviewing rules, procedures, and expectations conveys the value of these positive behaviors. Typical routines and procedures to review:

  • Morning/dismissal routines
  • Responding to a signal
  • Lining up
  • Hallway expectations
  • Restroom behaviors
  • Small-group routines
  • Lunch and recess rules

6. Extend extra patience and empathy. Undoubtedly, some students will have a hard time getting back into the school routine. After spending an extended time with family, having unscheduled bedtimes, and enjoying holiday festivities, it is only natural that some students may exhibit a little sadness or anger the first few days back. Reassuring your students with smiles and positivity conveys how happy you are to have them back. Use statements like “I know it’s hard not to be home with your family after spending so much time with them, and I am so excited we are here together.” 7. Revisit favorite activities. Choosing activities that students enjoyed and were successful with reestablishes their confidence in the classroom. Revisiting a fun activity, game, or song reminds students of enjoyable experiences in the classroom and encourages them to reengage. Favorite energizers, brain breaks, and interactive learning structures make learning interesting and engaging. What are those favorite activities that will ignite your class? The winter break is often an exciting time of year. Easing back from this lengthy interruption of established classroom routines is a challenge that many teachers and students face every January. Following these simple tips can make that transition smoother so that you emerge from the extended break with a focused and motivated group of students ready to tackle the rest of the school year. Written by Ramona McCullough, Responsive Classroom educational consultant and coach

Related Resources

It has been an amazing start to the school year. Our learners here at the International School of Denver have transitioned into classrooms where, in most cases, the teacher does not speak their language, nap time is not in their own beds, and even lunches could be something that “my mom does not cook,” as one preschooler happily announced! But just as we have the routines established, the fall break creeps up on the calendar. We know that young children thrive on consistency and structure, so preparing your children for the return back to school is essential. Here are a few tips to preparing your child to return back to school after a week away:

Build expectancy

  • Start reminding your child three days before they are to return to school that break will be over soon and they will go back to school.
  • Announcing that their friends will be so happy to see them helps to build the expectancy and excitement.

Reading for their return

Reading books to your children helps not only their social emotional growth but is vital to the development of their vocabulary. The following books can be a great resource for you as you prepare your child to return to school:

  • The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn: A little raccoon named Chester is afraid to leave his mother and go to school. Mother Raccoon shares an old family tradition, the “kissing hand,” which comforts Chester and reminds him of his mother’s love, no matter where he goes.
  • You Go Away by Dorothy Corey: Full of colorful illustrations, this book is ideal for toddlers and preschoolers struggling with separation. Through a series of relatable examples, this story comforts children with a refrain that drives home a single message: Grown-ups do come back.
  • Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen: Learn that goodbye isn’t forever, and parents will come back at the end of the day, in this kind-hearted board book. They also discover simple rituals that can help a child tremendously — hugs and kisses, a big wave, a deep breath and faith in teachers and friends.
  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas: Owen the piglet is uncertain about leaving his mother during the day, but she eases his fears by assuring him she’ll love him every minute — from the time he leaves her, until he arrives back at home — even through his adventures without her, including eating lunch and making new friends.
  • Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney: With the help from new preschool friends, Llama learns that it is OK to miss Mama Llama and still have fun at school.

Keep to your established routines

  • If you had a consistent goodbye ritual, continue to use it. This will comfort your child.
  • Some parents give a high-five, a big hug, or butterfly kisses. Your child remembers those special goodbyes you had established before break so please continue them.

Keep calm and carry on

  • Your children may shed some tears when returning back from break. This new challenge may shock some parents, and they wonder why this is happening so late in the school year. This is totally normal!
  • Transition back to school is hard for some children. Leaving you is not easy but remember, the longer your goodbye, the harder it will be for your child, so please keep these goodbyes brief. Lingering by the door just makes the separation more difficult.
  • It’s also important to remain calm and keep your emotions under control during drop off. Your strength and confidence can become your child’s strength and confidence. This too shall pass!

We hope you enjoy your time off with a well-deserved week of rest, relaxation, and bonding with your family — and an easy return afterwards with some of these tips. Have a wonderful week! Call 303-340-3647 for more information! Located in Denver, CO

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