by Rachel Wells
Winter break means two glorious weeks of sleeping in, staying up late, ignoring routines, and indulging in sugary treats – for both you and your students! And if we are being honest, the first day back from winter break can sometimes feel like a second first day of school. It takes time to get back into the swing of things, and transition back into school mode. The best thing you can do as a teacher is to honor the fact the first few days back after break are indeed a transition period and plan accordingly.
Check out these tips to making the transition back to school a smooth and happy one.
First of all, here’s what you can expect the first day back:
- Your students will be tired: Plan time for brain breaks and free play so your students can get up and move around.
- They will also be hungry: Snacks are often enjoyed frequently at home over break. Remind students to bring in extra snacks, or plan your snack orders accordingly the first week back.
- They are going to want to talk: Your students most likely haven’t seen their classmates for two weeks, so go into the classroom prepared that your students may have a lot to say!
What you can do to make the first day back successful:
Let Students Know You Were Thinking about Them
Make sure students know how much you missed them, and how excited you are to see them again. You can leave post-it notes at their individual table spots, or write a nice message on the board for them all to see.
Plan Time for Students to Share
A lot has happened in the last few weeks, holidays, adventures, new toys… remember that your students have gone a long time without talking to their friends, and they are going to talk to each other one way or another – you can either plan a set time to do so, or they will most likely be interrupting you all day long. Make sure every student that wants to share has an opportunity to do so during this share time. Setting aside the first 30 minutes or so of your day for share time is going to help everyone settle back into the classroom.
Review Rules and Expectations
This is vital. Don’t expect your students to remember your classroom rules and expectations. Even if you think your students don’t need to do this – do it anyways! On that first day back go over your classroom rules and expectations again, or take the opportunity to make a new set of classroom rules together for the second half of the year. Take the time to model expectations just like you would at the beginning of the year to get everyone back on the same page.
Remember to cover your expectations for lining up, walking in the hallway, using the restroom, cleaning up, and for sitting on the carpet or at tables. You will be thankful you did!
Get Back into a Routine
Kids work best when they are in a routine, and you worked so hard to set up routines at the beginning of the year to slack off in the middle. We’ve already talked about starting your day with share time and rules review, but after that, follow your normal routines for the rest of the day. You may need to ease back into things, but keeping your schedule and sticking to routines will help create a smooth transition back.
Adjust Your Expectations
You can do everything right to prepare for the first day back – but remember your kids have been out of practice for weeks, and it’s near impossible to accurately predict how your students are going to be when they step back through your door. The transition back to school after winter break is just that, a transition, so be flexible, and know that it’s okay to adjust your expectations.