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6 Ways to Get Back Into a School Routine After the Holiday Break

A teacher in a middle school classroom after winter break

Readjusting to school lessons can be difficult for students after the holidays

Key takeaways:

  • Model the behavior you want your child to do

  • Talk about going back to school

  • Use visual aids to ease back into routines

  • A good night’s sleep is critical

  • Set up practice routines

  • Monitor your child’s stress level

  • Help your student gather school supplies

  • Schedule reading time

  • Reduce screen time

Does your child have trouble readjusting to school life after the holiday break? If so, you’re not alone. Many kids backslide a bit academically during the winter break. It comes from not participating in activities tied to learning.

Similar to the “summer slide,” winter holiday breaks are long enough to affect children’s progress in the classroom. It’s the same as not exercising your muscles. Wait too long between workouts and you’ll make yourself sore when you start exercising again.

The brain is also a muscle. When it’s not used, it begins to atrophy from a lack of activity. We will outline six simple steps you can take to minimize any learning losses over the break and help your middle schooler readjust to school lessons.

Tip #1: Lead by example

Want your child to begin readjusting to his or her school schedule before going back? Show them how by doing it yourself. It’s not just kids who alter their activity and sleeping habits during breaks. Parents often relax bedtimes and other structured parts of daily life.

Many companies provide employees with holiday breaks so adults can sleep in, relax, or get a reprieve from their day-to-day schedules. If you’re working for such a company, you may have relaxed your own bedtime. You might sleep in when the morning comes. It’s understandable, and everyone deserves a break!

You don’t want to slip into bad habits, though, and model that for your child. Alter your own sleeping habits before the holiday break ends. Start getting up earlier in the morning a few days before your child has to go back to school. Get everyone in your household used to the regular schedule.

Tip #2: Talk about going back to school

Kids can get as stressed as adults. And, just like grown-ups, kids learn to hide their anxiety or bury it. Going back to school can be very stressful for kids. Whether it’s feeling unprepared, nervousness over encountering students they don’t get along with, or some other reason, kids may have feelings they are struggling with and not sharing.

As a parent, look for those signs of stress. Is your child moodier as school approaches? Do they lose their appetite? Are they withdrawn? Have you noticed a lack of energy in your child?

These signs may signal stress or depression. Reach out to them. Get them to talk and open up. Despite external acts of pushing you away, kids often use moodiness to show they need attention. They may deny it, but their irritability is often a sign something is troubling them.

Tip #3: Prepare your student for class by picking up supplies and using calendars

Because kids may feel unprepared for going back to classes, getting organized can help reduce their stress. Get a wall calendar. Sit down with your child and go over upcoming assignments. Write key dates on the calendar.

Take a look at your child’s upcoming assignments and needed supplies. Ask your child if they have everything they need when school resumes. If not, go to the store with your student. Get them involved in the buying process. Encourage them to have a sense of ownership over what they need.

As middle schoolers, children need to be nudged toward more responsibility. One thing many adults forget is that kids do not understand responsibility. Just because they are getting older does not mean they gain an understanding of concepts like getting organized without help. Guiding them while they do things on their own will help them learn responsibility.

You can also prepare for the break by sitting down together before the holidays even hit. Make a list of things your child will need to be ready after winter break. Some parents get all of the school year’s supplies at the beginning of the school year. If you have done this, you’re ahead of the game. Double-check their supplies before the holidays sneak up on you, however. Lesson plans change, supplies are lost, and your middle schooler might be left without key supplies.

Tip #4: Get a good night’s sleep

Sleeping habits are often one of the first things altered during an extended break. Kids sleep in later in the morning. They stay up later at night. Getting back onto an appropriate sleep schedule is one of the biggest adjustments for going back to school.

Set a scheduled bedtime and stick to it several days before the holiday break ends. Your child will be in a much better position to readjust to daily school with a good night’s sleep. And, like we mentioned earlier, you can stick to an earlier sleep schedule yourself, too!

Tip #5: Schedule reading times

A simple way to make going back to school easier for your middle schooler is implementing reading time. Schedule a minimum amount of reading time for your child each day. Reading is a foundational activity that keeps your brain limber and active.

Many parents and education experts say reading prevents academic slides during the winter breaks and summer vacations. The reason? Reading is at the core of most subjects in school. Understanding math, science, music, and nearly every other topic is dependent on reading skills. Without solid reading skills, a child has little chance to succeed academically.

You can take your child to your local library. Getting them out of the house (where all of the tempting time wasters are waiting) is an effective way to encourage more reading. The library offers endless opportunities for your middle schooler to explore subjects you and they didn’t even know they found interesting!

Tip #6: Reduce screen time

This suggestion is hardly a surprise! Limit your child’s screen time to prevent academic atrophy. Get them moving and doing other things. Brains need to be stimulated, and it’s too easy to slip into sluggish (from a mental standpoint) time-wasting with unlimited access to their tablets or cell phones.

Be sure to let your child know you’re not punishing them. You’re trying to help them succeed. While your words may seem to fall on deaf ears, you’ll know you are doing the right thing. To heighten the impact of your words, you can limit your own screen time when home with your child.

Moving forward

It’s easy as an adult to forget how stressful school life can be. You can help your child reduce their stress by being prepared. Getting back to school sleep routines, talking about feelings of anxiety, and checking school supplies are easy ways to prepare for post-holiday break life.

Contact Lamad Academy if you have any questions about your middle schooler’s classes, schoolwork, or our educational philosophy. If your child is entering middle school and you want a forward-thinking educational experience for your child, contact ouradmissions office today.

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