It's been an uphill battle, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Winter Break is almost here!! For those of you who are teaching or learning - at home, at school, online, in-person, or any combination of the options out there - YOU. DESERVE. A. TROPHY.
Give yourself a round of applause and take an opportunity to appreciate all of your effort and hard work. Teachers and parents are working harder than ever to accommodate the ever-changing recommendations from Public Health and the balance of learners both in school and at home. Workloads feel quadrupled and run-down doesn't begin to cover how everyone is feeling. You have EARNED your break.
Now - before you completely throw caution to the wind and indulge by eating never ending treats and staying up late watching Hallmark Christmas movies every night (don't worry - you should still do this!), please consider this...
As a teacher, nothing breaks my heart more than watching the incredible progress of a child, who then leaves for an extended break and returns back to school further behind than they were when they left. This can be especially true for early readers - even more so for struggling ones! Have you ever wondered why perhaps your child left Grade 1 in June reading above grade level, but when they were assessed by their new teacher in September, they had them pegged as below grade level?
It's fairly simple. During school, students are exposed to academic material all day long. Their walls are covered in text, vocabulary, info-graphics and resources. They work through multiple subject areas and cover tons of content during their 7 hour day. They cover core competencies such as reading, writing and math every single day. Then all of a sudden, an extended break (any break longer than a long weekend) comes around and students spend most of their day hanging out, relaxing with family or friends, binge watching TV, playing video games, and travelling (but perhaps not this year - thanks for nothing, COVID)! No wonder the skills lapse - they go from intensive instruction 5 days a week for 4 months, to multiple weeks of NOTHING structured! It's no surprise that for so many kids, those skills fade during that time.
But it's a vacation, Michelle...
Now please - DON'T get me wrong. Breaks are so important. They are designed to give everyone an opportunity to recharge the batteries and come back to school feeling refreshed and ready to learn again. They are an integral part of our mental health and I look forward to my vacations as much as anyone!! I am NOT telling you to spend your break by providing a rigid schedule and heavy workload. In fact, I am encouraging you to spend the time reconnecting with your family and taking a well deserved break from the grind that has been these last 4 months.
So then what ARE you saying?
Consider how hard you have worked to get to this point. During a year that has been harder than ever to stay afloat, imagine having to go backwards in January when you return back to school because some of the progress made was lost over the break. Spending just a minimum of 10-15 minutes of scheduled time per day working on those core competencies will be enough to keep the progress at it's current place. This leaves PLENTY of time for Hallmark movies and playing in the snow. Trust me, the reward is worth it.
Let me be crystal clear.
Unless by some miracle, your child has asked for it...
This is not the time to introduce new concepts or units.
This is not the time to edit, quiz, test or mark anything.
This is not the time for drills or high-pressure performance tasks.
Your goal for the break is to help your child keep their progress - what they've worked so hard for the last 4 months - at its current state. No more. No less. Keep the status quo.
How do I do this?
- light practice of skills, in a fun and engaging way with no pressure!
- meaningful application and learning of life skills (cooking, baking, grocery orders online, etc.)
- reading and/or exposure to text daily (pictures only or text, independent, shared, modeled; leveled books, picture books, chapter books, cookbooks, magazines, novels, comic books, grocery store flyers - it doesn't matter.)
- writing multiple times per week (keep a winter break journal, holiday cards, instructions for how-to build the perfect snowman, a letter to Santa, etc.)
- practice any rote math skills that were particularly challenging and may need refreshing before returning in January (there are great games/apps that make this fun!)
Custom Winter Break Learning Pack
Don't know where to start for activities and practice? You're in luck!
I am creating customized Winter Break Learning Packs that include printable and digital activities, as well as open-ended games, and age appropriate resources and materials for you to use over the break. Click here to submit your order!
I look forward to helping you support your child this winter!
Happy Breaking :)