There is a lot of excitement in December. Staying focused can be a challenge for us and for our students during this stressful season. With the anticipation of upcoming celebrations, and the needed break from school, the adults are often in countdown mode. This can look like a countdown calendar, parties and lots of talk about what we are looking forward to. Routines take a back seat. While some students enjoy this and still engage appropriately, for many students the excitement increases stress and as a result, behavior and ability to learn goes downhill. Two weeks away from the structure and support of school is not something to look forward to. It is even harder when they see their classmates’ and teacher’s enthusiasm. What can you do?
- This is a great time to practice and re-teach common classroom routines. It will make January easier, too.
- Keep the classroom process familiar; avoid big interruptions in routine.
- Keep any celebrations low-key and similar to any other celebrations you do around learning.
Stress reduction – use physical and mental breaks
- Dim the lights and play quiet music during transitions.
- Spend some time each day reading (students listening) a chapter in a fun, absorbing novel (age appropriate). Allow students to doodle while listening.
- Take a few minutes several times a day for one or two yoga or stretching exercises, or some deep breathing.
- Gratitude practice. Help the class think about how they can make someone’s day better.
- Take time for reflection: Have students notice what they appreciate about their classmates or school.
Things to avoid:
- Countdown calendars (visual or any talk about days left until break)
- Big celebrations
- Public sharing about what I’m doing during vacation