Creating a plan and setting daily goals can give students structure to work within and completing assignments.
Students know the feeling well, and so do grown-ups. Call it the “Back to School After Holidays Blues.” It’s that letdown when the excitement of the holidays is over and it’s time to return to the daily grind. It takes a lot of energy and motivation to return to the everyday routine, but the faster your child gets there, the sooner they’ll be back on track for academic success. A few tips for returning to school after the holiday, whether winter or summer break, can turn the blues into a happy song.
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How Students Can Stay on Their A-Game
Going back to school after winter break is hard. The days are dark and cold. The excitement of the holidays is a memory. Still, there’s no need to resign yourself to moping through the gloom. These seven tweaks to the daily routine can get your child back on track.
Find What Motivates You
- CCA mom and family mentoring coordinator Erma Sauder uses the post-holiday time to remind her children that they are part of something bigger — a school where learning is personalized and students chart their own path to success. Her kids realize that access to a great education is a special privilege that they’re proud to share. “They get really excited to know that they are a part of something different,” Erma says. Each family can find its own motivation to make learning a precious experience, perhaps scheduling a fun family outing a week or two after school resumes.
Use Your Learning Coach and Teachers
- Sometimes, all it takes to get a little push is hearing an encouraging voice. CCA teachers are much more accessible than brick-and-mortar school teachers. They are happy to take phone calls from students who need to talk through an assignment and get their brains in gear. Plus, CCA parents and guardians are also learning coaches, there any moment that a child needs a listening ear. “As a student, phone calls might be scary or overwhelming, but in the long run, after I call my teachers, I feel much more relieved and have a clearer idea of what I am doing,” says Cheyenne Sauder, Erma’s daughter.
Establish a School Routine
- Returning to school after the holidays — and going back to school after summer break, too — means picking up school routines that were dropped like a hot potato a short time before. This is the time to reestablish a routine, customized to provide a little extra motivation. Feel free to ease gently into the routine, not being too hard on yourself if you take things a bit slowly. Start every day with a plan. Figure out what you will do, when you will do it, and why. “I’ve discovered if I put a time frame on when I’m working on schoolwork, when I’m going to take a break and how long the break is going to be, it really helps me schedule my time and be more focused,” Cheyenne says.
- Build goals into the daily schedule, for that sense of accomplishment you get by checking a task off the to-do list.
Start the Day Strong
- Get a good night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast and have a morning workout, even if it’s just running up and down the stairs a few times. Keep your body and mind in peak shape, and they’ll stick with you as the day goes on.
- Maybe the worst thing you can do to try to get back into the swing of things is slogging through your work. That’s no way to recapture lost enthusiasm. Maintain your energy levels, and protect your mental health, by taking regular breaks. Write them into the schedule, and add impromptu breaks when your energy starts to flag. Get some physical activity, which repowers your body’s fuel cells, and give the brain a break with a fun activity or just a quiet moment to think and enjoy the scenery.
- The holidays pulled you in every direction, and you were happy to go along. When it’s time to go back to school, get your brain out of that habit by eliminating the sources of distraction in your environment. Silence cellphones, and put them out of reach. Turn off the TV. Save playtime with the pets for later. Focus on the work at hand, and it’ll go more quickly.
How Learning Coaches Can Help
When things get hard, children need to know they are supported. The parents of CCA, who are also their children’s learning coaches, know it’s not their role to do their child’s work, but they can create a positive environment that makes children feel encouraged and productive.
Try these tips to beat the post-holiday blahs.
- Be clear about the schoolwork you expect your child to accomplish before they can play or watch TV. If they know that getting to the fun part of the day is up to them, they’ll be less likely to procrastinate with their assignments. Cheyenne appreciates the trust, saying that getting more independence and personal responsibility for completing her work makes her more inclined to see it through and feel less like she is completing a chore.
- Give children wiggle room, and they will take it. Instead, parents should be consistent in the rules they establish and enforce. There will always be exceptions, of course, but in general kids perform best when they know their boundaries and expectations. Erma’s kids not only let her know when their schoolwork is done but also ask about the chores they need to complete before they can play a favorite video game. “Just those little, day-to-day, consistent expectations really help them stay in the game, so to speak,” she says.
- When Erma sees Cheyenne dragging out her schoolwork, she’ll set a time for getting it done. That makes Cheyenne feel more motivated and sends her into high gear.
- The post-holiday return to school is a time to watch for academic struggles. Children haven’t been immersed in classes for a while, so they might have forgotten some of their lessons. After summer vacation, the phenomenon known as “summer slide” means that kids have forgotten weeks’ worth of academics, and even the shorter winter break can sidetrack lessons learned. To bring back those forgotten lessons, help your child review studies and schoolwork from the pre-break days, turning them into fun games and activities. When classes and study resume, keep an eye on your child’s attention span. If they seem more reluctant to work on one subject than the others, it could be a sign that they’re overwhelmed by that topic. Talk to your child to find out what the problem is, and reach out to your child’s teacher for help.
Work With Teachers
- If your child has trouble adjusting at first, let the teacher know. The teacher can try techniques that make learning more engaging, and before long your child is having fun again. Your child will need a couple of days to adjust, and that’s natural. But if time passes and your child still isn’t in the school routine, talk to the teacher. Put your heads together, sharing clues about what you’re seeing that’s different or concerning. The puzzle pieces might fall into place, and you discover, for instance, that your child is struggling with math or is experiencing vision problems that no one noticed in the bustle leading up to the holidays.
Find Your Community
- CCA families know a Family Service Center is always there, staffed with caring teachers and stocked with the resources for academic success. Dropping into a Family Service Center gives children a chance to reconnect with friends and make new ones, while they’re reminded that school really can be fun — even in winter.
Focus on the Future
- Prompt your child to think about the things coming up in the rest of the school year. Maybe an exciting field trip is planned, or the biology teacher is promising an intriguing experiment. Having something to look forward to relieves the feeling that nothing is going on after the holidays are over.
- At CCA, students, parents and teachers work together at the start of every school year to set goals. It might be making the honor roll, getting better grades in English or applying to prestigious colleges. Whatever the goals, midyear is a great time to review, assess progress and adjust. It’s also a time to think of new goals to add, whether that’s making new friends or trying out for a new sport. Anticipating the rewards of a goal accomplished helps your child get through the bleak days of winter.
Personalized Learning Chases Away the Winter Blues
Kids who love school aren’t likely to lag after the holiday vacation. They dive back in because they’re eager to learn the next new idea. However, if the return to school after winter break turns into yet another fight about school, maybe it’s time to change schools. CCA’s personalized learning customizes the education plan to your child’s interests, passions, strengths and challenges. The result? Kids who get what school is all about, are ready to tackle their lessons and stay motivated to achieve after the holidays. Contact CCA to learn more about how a personalized experience can reignite your child’s passion for learning.