December can be a hard month in the classroom. With all the celebrations and stress of the season, you might find the children are misbehaving more. Here are 7 strategies that help you make it through the holidays with your sanity still intact.
#1 Slow Down.
The first strategy is to slow everything down. Leave extra time for your transitions and resist the urge to move kids along faster. You can also plan fewer lessons so that you have more time to spend on each activity. There is something about rushing and pushing children to finish that creates a lot of tension.
#2. Use Group Relaxation.
Next you can use group relaxation to reset the energy level in the classroom. If you are following the Positive Classroom Method, you’ve already taught the children breathing exercises to calm down. Use those throughout the day during December. Start off the morning meeting with some deep breaths and have the children close their eyes for a minute or so. Repeat this after lunch or recess, or specials that get the children excited. You can also take a couple of minutes to do some yoga between activities. If the children are still restless and over stimulated, stop your lesson and do some guided visualization. Have the children close their eyes and imagine a beautiful color filling their body as they breathe in – all the way until it slowly reaches their fingers and toes.
#3. Monitor the children closely for signs of agitation.
Everyone’s trigger point is set lower during holiday times and it won’t take much to set off some children. As soon as you see signs such as Tapping, nail biting, head down, kids out of their seat, lots of chatting, redirect the child or children with positive choices such as getting a drink, stretching, or taking a break. Be sure to use your quiet corner and suggest when a child might want to take a break for a few minutes and read or listen to music. This is better than having them disrupt the whole class. Focus specifically on the children who need the most attention, and during the next couple of weeks increase the amount of positive attention you give them. This extra attention is like a flu shot for preventing a worse outbreak of attention-seeking behavior that will disrupt the class.
#4. Keep your schedule as consistent as you can.
I know that many classrooms have lots of extra curricular activities so also prepare the children for any assemblies, parties, celebrations. Use a visual schedule to help them keep track of what is happening each day.
#5. Monitor Your Mood.
Perhaps the most important strategy is to monitor your own mood. Tension is contagious and if you bring your stress into the classroom, before you know it, the children will respond with more misbehavior. This can start a viscious cycle of negativity this time of year. Take frequent breaks, especially if you have a teacher assistant or co-teacher. Monitor your shoulders and face for tension and get yourself to breathe deeply and let the physical tension go. And remember to smile – even if you don’t feel like it. A smile – even one that’s faked – can help you to lighten your mood.
#6. Take children outside.
Especially in the colder climates, and in areas where the days get shorter, children are spending less time outside. This results in more stress and inappropriate behaviors in the classroom. Get the children outside more – go for walks, or build in time for games. The children desperately need the movement, freedom, and fresh air.
#7. Finally, find some time for fun moments.
Replace some of your lessons with movement activities, songs, Art Projects and Special Stories. The time that you take for these activities is worth it because the children will be more able to learn when they are calm and having fun. And you will be a more effective teacher when you spend some time having fun!
Please share your own ideas for managing holiday stress on The Positive Classroom Facebook page. Enjoy the Holidays!
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