The winter holiday season can be a busy time. There are lots of special activities and events. Consistency, predictability, communicating with parents, and relationship-building continue to be important during this time. These qualities help to reduce anxiety, build a sense of community, and continue routines that provide stability for students, thus preventing an increase in negative behavior.
Consistency, routine, and relationship-building have many obstacles and can be especially difficult to maintain during this time of year, but here are a few tips for a successful transition into the holiday season.
1. Reflect on routines begun at the beginning of the year that have allowed for predictability- both within the classroom and with families. Resolve to continue these practices during this time- students and families alike depend on them.
2. Communicate weekly with families via an app, email, or newsletter. Include academic and social skills you are teaching, upcoming dates, and tips to support classroom success during the holiday season.
3. Plan a culminating academic project. This provides for student engagement, problem-solving, an opportunity to use social skills that have been taught, and family engagement. (And bonus…include a rubric up front and grading is made easy!)
4. Invite parents to the project presentations. This communicates that every moment is used for learning and that families are important and vital to students’ academic achievement.
5. Choose a few social skills to teach that are pertinent to the learning at hand, i.e. showing appreciation, working together, accepting differences, sharing, volunteering, etc.. Students must work together and share to successfully complete a group project. Students can volunteer to go above and beyond during clean up after messy project time, and show appreciation and accept differences during presentations. Communicate these skills to parents so that they, too, can teach and reinforce these social skills at home. Resources here.
6. If any homework is sent home over the holidays, make sure clear written instructions and the purpose for the assignment accompany them. Unclear communication can make it difficult for families to enforce and for students to complete. Let’s set our students up for success!
When interacting with parents, keep these tips for success in mind:
1. Communicate often, consistently, and in various ways.
2. Ensure that parents can understand the information- keeping languages and reading ability in mind.
3. Actively listen to parents.
4. Be welcoming to all types of families. Accepting diversity is a vital foundation of teaching classroom community. And we are our students’ model!
5. Share every success!
6. Thank parents; show appreciation- yet another opportunity to be what we want to see.
7. Invite parents to events to celebrate together.