The children have just had a week or more off from school. Most likely, they are not used to any stable routine right now and may have a lot of energy. December seems like a long time ago and they might have “forgotten” the way the class runs. In many ways, coming back in January is similar to the beginning of the school year. Don’t assume the children will slide back into your routines – make sure you remind them with plenty of modeling, practice, and positive feedback when they get it right! Here are a few classroom strategies to focus on:
- Quiet Signal: Review the signal you use to get the children’s attention throughout the first week back. Be positive and give plenty of support to help them remember.
- Procedures: Review the basic procedures you established in the fall for lining up, cleaning up, transitioning from carpet to tables/desks, going to the bathroom, working independently, and so on. Build time into your schedule to practice these everyday for the first week back, and then once or twice a week afterwards until you are comfortable that the day flows smoothly.
- Community-Building: Start right away with reinforcing the children’s caring and cooperation with one another. Have a little party to celebrate having everyone back together again. Use morning greetings to make the children feel welcome. The Responsive Classroom has wonderful ideas for these:
- Classroom Culture: Teach the children how to say kind words and acknowledge when you hear children say them. Point out when children help each other. Review your class rules and why they exist. For the first week or two after the holidays, be sure to give positive statements regularly – every few minutes or so is best for establishing a supportive learning climate.
- Organization: Have a cleaning party. Put on some fun music and help the children to clean out their desks, cubbies, or other personal space. Get rid of old papers, decide on a place for each item and tidy up the common areas of the room. Then take a photo of each child’s personal area and print it out. Laminate the photo and have each child tape it where they can refer to it as a guide for keeping themselves organized.
- Physical Activity: Alternate periods of work and concentration with energizing physical movement. Use musical games, take the children outside, or try some yoga. They will need regular breaks to be able to transition from the laid-back schedule of the vacation to the more intense structure of school.