There are a few times of the year that strike me – every single year, not just this one – as the most difficult, most prone to teacher phone calls, most traumatic, and most likely to end in trips to the principal’s office.
And they all involve Change. Naturally. In fact, I’m sure you knew that was coming.
- The beginning of the school year, when new routines and ways of doing things are revealed and hammered (or at least the attempt is made) into young brains.
- Right after the holiday/winter break, when routines have been thoroughly disrupted and then expected to be picked up again as though nothing ever happened.
- At the end of the year, when all the kids are over-excited and thinking about the upcoming summer. Change is in the wind, and while most kids are thrilled, some are apprehensive, worried, and excited all at the same time. Not a good mix for steadiness and calm.
Right now, of course, we’re approaching #2 on the list. Holidays and winter breaks, and then the resumption of school and all of its routines and expectations.
So, if we know a storm’s threatening, how can we prepare and try to at least lessen the damage?
What we’ve found works best is maintaining at least some of the routines. Especially school-related ones, like handwriting and math work. Since, as parents, we won’t be in the classroom to help ease them through the transition, at least maintaining a certain level of schoolwork (and cooperation/tolerance for work) at home helps to lessen the shock.
- Assigning math homework every day (or every other day). Without pity. Remember, the teacher won’t feel pity – or anything like it – when the child returns to school only to argue and refuse to do work. However, I usually like to make the math a little more fun (involving reindeer or snowflakes or food) and not quite as dry as usual. If you don’t like – or don’t have the time – to write your own, practice workbooks can be purchased at most book stores.
- Expecting a writing assignment on a daily basis. It should be at least semi-fun – like writing to Santa, making wish lists, or composing stories/poems about the holidays (or winter, if you’re not into holidays) – to help lower resistance and encourage writing. Keeping in practice will greatly diminish problems when school resumes.
- Practice organization. As organization is a difficult skill for most of our AS kids, the more practice the better. Often we’ll sort drawers (this helps with visual sensory issues, as well), organize bedroom space, sort books, etc.
- Brush up on trouble areas. View the break as a chance to work on what you perceive as “needs improvement.” For example: handwriting, fractions, reading skills, and so on.
- Remember what he or she resisted in the beginning of the year, and try to incorporate that into daily routines. For example, if remembering to include a name on homework is (or was) an issue, make that a requirement, and reward the child for fulfilling it.
- Make sure proper headings (name, date, subject, whatever) are on everything, even assignments you made up on the spot. After all, we’re maintaining/teaching habits, and any deviation may come back to bite us later.
Next post (Part 2), I’ll go over a few ways to help these things all happen, as we know our kids won’t all be leaping for joy at the thought of work over the holidays. 🙂
Until, then, stay safe and enjoy (?) the weather.
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