The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it all the joys of this time of the year: visiting with loved ones, decorating and crafting, feasting on beautiful spreads, gorging ourselves with treats. As the kids walk through classroom doors increasingly full of sugar and excitement though, teachers may be feeling some serious anxiety as they gear up for the next couple of months. Here are some tips for making the holiday season not only bearable, but fun and educational.
1. Stick to Your Schedule
This is a tough one, but it is probably the most important. It seems like every day of the school year, something comes up to throw off the schedule. Rare is the day that is free of fire drills, a class party, or surprise meetings. That is why this time of the year is the time to get serious about keeping to your schedule. Kids thrive off of routine, and staying consistent is what is going to keep the behavior issues to a minimum. Have fun, but do it within the confines of your normal day whenever possible.
2. Announce Special Activities Way in Advance
This goes hand in hand with sticking to your schedule. Kids need to know what to expect, or they can become fearful or uneasy. This time of the year, there are of course going to be deviations to the schedule. There will be parties, and special activities, and movie days — and there should be. You and the kids both deserve to celebrate! The trick is to announce these events far in advance. Mark all events on your class calendar, and talk with students about how the regular daily schedule will change to accommodate these events.
3. Model and Use Role Play
If you’ve never used these techniques before, this can feel a little awkward at first, but don’t give up! Modeling and role play are extremely effective tools to use with children. The day before or the morning of a special holiday event, gather the students in a group and go over what to expect from the event. Take turns acting out how to sit or move during the event, what to do if they need a restroom break, what to do if they have a question, etc. You’re basically doing a dry run so that the kids know how to behave. By giving them an idea of what’s going to happen and how to act, you’ve proactively nipped the majority of behavior incidents in the bud.
4. Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
You already do a ton of planning, but this is the time to really batten down the hatches. Have an idea of where your lessons and units are going weeks in advance, and try to add in some holiday fun to their existing structures. This will save you class and planning time over the long run. Being prepared also ensures that the kids stay happily engaged, and, therefore, out of trouble.
The most important thing to remember, however, is this: have fun! Even if you’ve followed these tips to a T, things are inevitably going to come up — and that’s ok! Remember that your attitude is the number one biggest influence on your classroom climate. Roll with the punches, be flexible, and remain clam. You’ve done everything you can to set your class up for success. All that’s left is to relax, and enjoy this magical season with your sweet kiddos!