Whilst we all love a school holiday, getting little ones back into the school routine can be tough. Here are our top tips for getting the next term off to a head start.
Make time for talking
Whilst we know that it is important to create an environment for learning, school is about so much more than the curriculum. Some of the children returning to school would not have seen their school friends for the whole of the holidays, and so strategically planned time for talking and catching up will not only limit the amount of disruption during focused learning time, but will also help boost confidence, reignite those friendships and help ease anxieties.
There would have been a big discrepancy in the amount of work and listening done at home, compared to what is expected at school, so keep this in mind when planning the first week of lesson plans so that routine can be re-established naturally and as quickly as possible.
A great way to include talking in your lesson plans are to include discussion tasks, practical investigations and question and answer-based lessons.
Are they ok?
Home life for some of your pupils will not be ideal and it’s important to check in with your class on their return to school. Additionally, home life may be quieter and calmer than the busy school environment they now find themselves back in, and so it’s important to manage this overwhelm.
Building a rapport with your class, their parents and key care workers will help make this easier for you to identify, but also consider things that can be done in the classroom to help in these moments. Remember to your class of the basics (where the toilets are, that you are there to help, timelines, etc) and showcasing areas of your classroom that may be a place of sanctuary for those feeling overwhelmed, such as book corners and quiet spaces.
There is also a huge benefit in adding in wellbeing-focused activities to the start of term; such as asking your class to draw an image of how they are feeling, or asking them to choose a colour that represents their mood and explaining why. These kind of activities not only help your class to feel less overwhelmed, but also give you an insight into how they are feeling and who you may need to keep a closer eye on as term starts.
Hunger and Tiredness are not a good match
When teaching younger children, we often hear that sleep routines can be lost during school holidays, and snacks throughout the day increased. This can mean that when your class return after school holidays they may be struck by the overwhelm, hunger and tiredness that returning to school routines can mean.
Be sure not to plan too may high-intensity physical activities in the first week back, and perhaps look at your PE plan; keeping in mind some children would not have been as active or well rested during the holidays.
If your timetable allows, add in a snack time or create a lesson plan that includes food; such as a DT lesson on making fruit cocktails or tasting new foods.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that it takes 2 weeks for sleep routines to be re-established, and so if this hasn’t been started before the return to school, be prepared for slightly more tired children; especially as the day goes on.
The more informed your classes’ parents are regarding what makes the return to school easier for the children, you (and them!), the better the process will be. Most children deal with some level of stress or anxiety about school, added with a change in routine, the provision of resources before the school holidays begin and just before they return is amazingly supportive.
You can make these resources independently, or link to your school’s website or Government provided resources.
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