Getting back into the swing of things post holiday hubbub is difficult for students and teachers. Little ones just spent days — maybe even weeks — delighting in family, friends and celebrations. Getting back into a normal routine can be challenging, but proactive teachers can help ease the transition by following a few simple tips.
First, take time to reconnect with students. Morning meeting and story time are great opportunities to gather the class and start getting everyone back on track. If you can strive for some one-on-one time with each student throughout the day, even better. Take a moment to talk with each preschooler during small-group times or at lunch periods if you eat with the kids.
The holidays are all about bending rules. Kids eat more sweets than usual. They stay up later than the normal bedtime. They get to do things they don't normally do. When they are back in school, it's time to change this mindset. A good idea is to review classroom rules with the group and talk about the day's routine much like you did the first week of school.
One thing not to do is avoid talking about the holidays. Well-meaning teachers think this will help kids focus more quickly, but really it can increase the holiday blues and build up tough emotions. Instead, during circle time, allow each child to share a favorite holiday memory. Do your best to avoid talking about presents, as you don't want any child to feel bad about receiving fewer or different gifts. Focus on favorite activities, such as baking, sledding, visiting relatives or dancing at a holiday party.
Some teachers even take this a step further and make a holiday memory book. Each child selects one memory and draws it on a piece of paper. Teachers help label the memories and add the name of the child. Then you can easily create a book for the classroom that each child helped make. You might even allow kids to check out the book so they can share it with their family at home.
As for the curriculum for the first days back at school, don't plan anything too big or challenging. Simply focus on adjusting back to the school routine and avoid any field trips or tough lessons. One fun and easy way to connect with kids is to create a new year curriculum. Check out the Lifetouch Preschool Portrait blog about preschool New Year's resolutions for more ideas.
In addition to thoughtful lessons, make sure to plan plenty of time for indoor and outdoor play. Kids have been moving a lot during holiday break; let them get those wiggles out at school, too! Even if you live in cold weather, kids don't mind bundling up and playing in the snow. Are you game?
Finally, above all else, be patient and accept the big feelings that preschoolers are experiencing. They just want to be heard. It's up to you to model understanding and caring while helping them to know that just because the holidays are over doesn't mean the fun won't continue.
Getting back into a normal routine can be challenging, but proactive teachers can help ease the transition by following a few simple tips.