At this time of year, with heightened excitement and a looming break from school, the agreements you co-created with your class at the beginning of the school year and the everyday routines you have been establishing are things to lean on. Depend on that structure now, because it comforts them and helps them feel safe. Refrain from adding too much extra.
Avoid the temptation to add more excitement to the days: Assemblies, special activities, half-days and holidays can be stressful. Especially for those who have been exposed to adverse experiences. Keep the school-day flow as close to normal as possible and add in self-regulation activities. When you choose to add in celebration, keep your activities rich but low key. Remember that contribution and connection are what creates a sense of well-being, so use these as a guide for how you might bring festivities into your classroom.
Ask rather than tell: Once your classroom routines have been established, practiced and have become more second nature to the classroom community, check that you are not directing them anymore. Instead, ask students what comes next. Ask students what the expectations for certain areas of the school are before your class enters them. Ask students what their agreements are for certain practices before they begin them. By asking, you invite your students to realize that they already have the knowledge they need to get through the day. They can predict what is coming up and know how to move through it. This knowledge is empowering and regulating, especially at this time of year.
Learn about world celebrations: December is filled with festivities from all over the world. Share information in your classroom about them or provide opportunities for your students to read about holidays from other places.
Power of Ritual: Routines help the classroom flow smoothly, day to day. Class rituals are different; they create community and are particularly good at helping us deal with change and loss. Be on the look-out for ways to create unique classroom rituals. Here is how one teacher applied this idea in his classroom.
Holiday Reading for You: Harness the resiliency power of ritual by learning how to use it in your own life: The Power of Ritual by Casper ter Kuile