Let’s be honest: nobody’s really happy when vacation is over! During one, two or ten weeks, teachers and students alike got used to doing exactly what they wanted, without pressure. Children played, teachers rested and everybody tried to forget about school routine. However, it is time to get back to the classroom and start a new school period.
What Changes After a Holiday Break?
Teachers know it too well. It is never an usual day when kids come back from holidays, even short ones. No one is eager to get back to difficult math problems and challenging homework. However, there are also a lot of positive feelings in the air during the first days after holidays. Kids have a lot to tell and share, they are happy to see their classmates again. Teachers can actually use this energy to motivate them in this post-break period.
In order to cope with pupils’ emotions, humor and disposition, teachers have to elaborate creative strategies to lead students back on the wonderful path of learning. That is why we have prepared a list of 10 useful tips to take into account after a vacation break. They will help you get the best of your students in a smooth and fun way.
1. Get in the Mood for Learning
The biggest mistake on the first day after a break is to pretend nothing happened and get back to business as usual. This won’t work: we know it takes a few days to readjust to school routine. Yourself as a teacher might need some time and space to be fully operational. It is important to read the room: How do your students feel? You must gently invite your pupils to get back in the mood for learning. If you feel energy and excitement, let them express it until they are calmer to start a learning activity. These first days can be great moments to work on social-emotional skills rather than just academic subjects.
2. Take It Easy
Only fools rush in, so take your time! Teachers often feel the time pressure to cover the whole curriculum, but a school year is not a sprint but a long-distance race. Take the first days as a brain-stretching session before the big effort. Try to elaborate a reasonable plan for the first week and manage it according to where your students stand. Start with easy and fun activities that will not stress them. When they are calm and ready to get back on track, then you can launch the learning process.
3. Reactivate Class Routine
Depending on the length of the break, pupils might have forgotten some of the basic class rules and routines. Even if they haven’t, they surely had some free unstructured time during vacation and they need to adapt again to a schedule. Teachers should remind them what they could have forgotten and reinstitute their class routine smoothly over the first week. Children, just like adults, need routine and they usually readapt easily to an old one.
4. Start With What Pupils Like
Did you notice an activity that your pupils particularly enjoy? Is there a subject that everybody or at least a vast majority likes? You should indeed try to make everyone happy by implementing a popular activity or subject. It can be an interesting science lesson with a cool experiment, an art lesson whose objective is a collaborative work of art or a fun P.E. lesson. You should indeed start with non-challenging and interesting activities to bring confidence to your pupils.
5. Make It Fun
Remember your pupils have spent a lot of time playing during holidays. And you know the saying: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! Make the transition easier by involving them in educational games during the first few days after a break. You have plenty of options in every subject and for every topic. Games can be great to check the understanding of a lesson but also to introduce a new lesson.
6. Set New Goals Together
Since you are starting a new period, it is time to set new goals. Nonetheless, you should be careful as to how you will share them with your pupils. A great idea is to check with them the things they would like to achieve as a group and as individuals. Giving your students a little control and initiative will empower them. Long-term goals can be perceived as very difficult or too abstract for kids, so be careful to set short-term goals too or too break down a long-term one into several easier-to-reach objectives. Never forget the SMART rule for your targets: Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely!
7. Reconnect Everyone
Time to reestablish the connection between you and your pupils and between them too. Enjoy the fact that they are happy to see their classmates again and have a lot to share. You can therefore give them some time to talk about what they did during vacation and work on story and anecdote-telling activities. You should also be a good listener to every one of them and use their experiences to start debates or focus on a specific learning topic.
8. Surprise Them With Something New and Engaging
Although you need to get your pupils back to a routine, there is nothing wrong in offering them something new and exciting. It can be anything that can trigger their excitement. A classroom pet or plant, a new classroom decoration or material, or an unexpected activity that can boost their will to learn.
9. Let Everyone Move Around
Most children tend to be active during holidays, or at least to move around as they wish. Being stuck on a chair can make them feel like they are back in a prison cell. So let them move around by creating activities where they can stand, walk and stretch inside the classroom, and even outside, if the weather allows it.
10. Link the Outside World With the Classroom
Children should not feel that school is separate from the outside world. Whenever possible, teachers should try to link their students’ lives with what is going on in the classroom. That is why you should listen attentively to what they do in their free time and praise them when they show positive behavior in extracurricular activities. It can boost their confidence and encourage others to start new activities.