The Guide to Preparing for the First Day After Winter Break

December 12, 2022 | Classroom Tips

Coming back to school after winter break can feel a lot like the first day of school — both for teachers and students. It’s the longest break in the regular school calendar next to summer break, and it can be difficult to get back into a regular routine for learning after such a long break. Your students are most likely completely out of their routine and are coming back from lots of fun family time and holiday celebrations.

The first day back at school can be a bit chaotic, but you can tame the chaos and get your students back on track and eager to learn again with a few simple ideas.

8 Teacher Tips for the First Day Back to School After Winter Break

Ready to get back to work and transition your class to back-to-school mode after the winter break? Follow these eight tips to have the best first day back possible and make that transition smooth and happy for you and your students.

1. Manage Your Expectations

It’s hard enough as a teacher to come back to work yourself after break, but it’s even harder on the little ones. Be honest about what everyone is capable of on their first few days back and don’t expect to be back in full swing for at least a few days. Do expect that your students may be a little more tired than usual, and maybe a little sad about being away from home again, especially with the younger grades.

Your students may have become more used to staying up later, sleeping in later, dealing with less daily structure and more fun and sweet treats throughout the holiday season. Getting back into a regular routine can take some time. Generally, it should only take a few days to get back up to speed, but during this time, have some patience and show compassion for your tired-out little ones as they adjust back to their school-time routine.

2. Reinforce Classroom Rules

Winter break means a break from the regular routine you’ve established in your classroom, so your students may need a refresher to get back into the norm. Spend a little time going over the classroom and school rules and expectations as well as the daily routine and schedule for your classroom. However, know that you don’t need to spend too much time on this.

Reassure your students that your classroom rules and expectations are the same as when they left for break. Younger children will be comforted by the return to their normal routines and may just need some gentle reminders.

3. Review Academic Concepts

The first few days after winter break are simply not the time to introduce new and complicated concepts. Spend a little time reviewing some of the ideas and concepts that you covered just before break. This will refresh their minds and help everyone gently transition into learning new things. Make sure your students understand the concepts before moving on.

4. Allow for Sharing Time

Kids will probably be full of fun memories and stories after winter break and may have a hard time focusing on other things right away. Give them some time to share their experiences with you and with their classmates. This can be during your circle time or in small group time, but build in some extra time to let those stories out. It can help everyone focus on their schoolwork later.

You can turn your winter break story sharing into a fun educational activity too. Set out some art supplies and have your students write or draw about their experiences and then share their projects with the class. This is a great way to get that energy out in a constructive manner.

5. Plan on Open-Ended Activities

Sometimes, the best way to ease back into school is with more open-ended activity time. This could be writing, journaling or drawing, with or without prompts. It can also include open time with things like blocks, play-dough, math manipulatives or other STEAM sets and activities. While these activities may seem basic, they can also be relaxing and great for transitioning back into learning time.

Let your students take the lead on these activities. It will be easier for them to participate, rather than forcing them to sit and listen right away.

6. Utilize Movement and Active Learning

Kids may not want to sit still all day right after their winter break, when they are used to less structure. On your first day back, you may want to incorporate activities that utilize movement and active play. This can help your students get out that extra energy and silliness and prepare to focus. You may also want to consider giving your students choices for activities during free time — set up stations of various supplies and let them choose what they want to do.

7. Build in Some Extra Time

It’s a good idea when you’re planning out the first day or so back from winter break to allow for extra time for most activities. Your kids may be a little slower to grasp new ideas and will be full of extra things they want to share. Build in some extra breathing room, or what’s known as “white space” in your day.

Many planned activities like circle time can benefit from a few extra minutes on a day like this. You may also want to give extra time to activities like free time, recess or quiet reading time to allow your students to relax and re-adjust to school.

8. Have Patience and Stay Positive

Perhaps the most important thing is to remember to have patience with your students as they transition back into schoolwork and to keep a positive mindset. Be encouraging, especially on this day back to the classroom, and provide lots of extra smiles and hugs. Show excitement for the new semester and all the new things your kids will learn. Make your students feel welcomed back in your classroom and show just how happy you are to have them back.

Get Ready for School With Supplies From The Classroom Store

Returning from winter break is an exciting time in the classroom. You can make it even more exciting with fun classroom materials and supplies from The Classroom Store. From basics like pencils and paper to art supplies, classroom organization, decor ideas and more, we have everything you need to bring your classroom ideas to life.

Inspire your students’ imaginations and promote their success with the best classroom supplies. Shop online today or contact us with any questions.

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