The holiday season is a joyous time of year, especially for children. While classrooms often enjoy celebrating together, there can also be frustration as students may have more energy and a find it difficult to focus. We talked to veteran teachers across the country in schools of all kinds and got their tried and true tips for keeping students engaged this holiday season.
- Integrate the holidays into your teaching: For primary teachers, this often comes easily as they naturally integrate holiday stories, crafts and writing assignments, but holiday integration is possible in almost any grade. Our teacher pros suggest taking a look at your goals and learning targets and finding at least one way to integrate holiday cheer each day. It may mean a holiday themed story problem or a creative writing assignment based on an uncaptioned holiday photo. Even if it’s small, a nod to the holiday season lets students know you understand how they’re feeling and encourages them to stay involved in their work. If you’re struggling to integrate the holidays with your content, try playing festive music during passing time to help students start the class period on a cheerful note.
- Introduce new experiences and activities: The holiday season is the perfect time to pull out those tricks you’ve been keeping up your sleeve. Students who are excited about the holidays can easily get restless in the classroom so introducing new activities and assignments helps captivate their attention. It might also be a great time to introduce a new behavior rewards system.
- Keep it consistent: While novel activities are fantastic, try to keep a consistent schedule. This time of year can become cluttered with holiday concerts, special activities and school breaks which may cause classroom time to feel disjointed and even chaotic. Do yourself and your students a favor by sticking to your established routines.
- Keep them moving: Incorporating movement and active learning into your day is key to keeping restless holiday learners engaged. Younger children may enjoy “brain breaks” from GoNoodle.com. For or older students, allowing time for cooperative learning and group discussions can be enough movement and accountability to keep them from checking out.
- Take the time you need: With limited instructional time during the holiday season it can be tempting to speed through curriculum in an attempt to fit everything in. Resist the temptation to cram and give yourself and your students the time they need to truly absorb the information. Curriculum crammed into the holiday season is likely to be forgotten over winter break so do everyone a favor and take the time to teach well in hopes of retention in January.
We wish you luck and an extra does of patience as you work with your students this holiday season!