Saturday, December 15, 2018

Taking a Break and Readjusting to Routines

A teacher friend just sent me a very funny video of a teacher getting ready for the winter break. And there are countless memes in this vein - hey, we work hard, are ready for some rest, and who doesn't need a good laugh! I know I do right now!

As early childhood educators we also want to come back refreshed and ready for the children, who always seem to grow in so many ways after time away from school. And sometimes they regress and it is like starting over again. Both are true.

Many children really miss school, familiar routines, and their teachers. While we may be literally running out the door on the last day, let's make sure our children are prepared for the break and ready to return.

NAEYC's Teaching Young Children has a lovely, short piece called Ready, Set, Return Helping Children Readjust After Winter Break with great tips for supports children's return to the classroom. See the link to the article for more detail but briefly they are:

1) If you haven't already, begin to talk about the break, no matter how long or short it may be.
2) Send home a bridge activity that they can do at home and bring back with them when they return.
3) Stay in touch through messaging apps or postcards or photos sent home on the last day.
4) Modify the schedule when they return - a shorter meeting, more time outdoors - don't change the routine but adjust it to reduce stress.
5) Revisit successful experiences by offering activities that reestablish confidence in the classroom.
6) Reintroduce and give explicit presentations on materials and centers. How blocks are used, handwashing routines, centers, etc. in whole and small groups, and one-one. Don't assume they will automatically fall back into routines.
7) Sing. Use rhythm, rhyme, music to reinforce routines - even if you make up a handwashing song to Old MacDonald.
8) Create sources of comfort, share control with children as they ease back in.

I'll add my own -
9) Offer new challenges once children readjust to school.

Children really do grow after time away and beginning a new project related to a Big Idea they can really dive into will start the year off right! Here is a link to a past blog with some curriculum ideas for Big Idea themes related to Martin Luther King Day - Martin's Big Words - Studying Martin Luther King

Here are two past blogs related to winter break, the holidays, and taking care of yourself.

Rethinking Holiday Gifts
5 Steps for a Renewing Winter Break

Enjoy a well-deserved break.

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