It is important to check in with students to assess how they are doing mentally, socially, and even physically. However, coming back from winter break can be a difficult time for some students as they anticipate being asked what they did over winter break, where they went, what presents they received, and much more. Unfortunately though these questions are not universal for all students as some may not have had a great winter break for a multitude of reasons. It is important as educators and employers of SEL that we remember each student experiences a different situation outside of school.
While some students are lucky enough to go home to a warm bed, loving family, and holiday traditions other students face a sadder reality. Unfortunately, some students have parents who are uninvolved in their daily lives, others have ill family members they help care for, some face hunger and a hard mattress. With these differences in mind it is important that when welcoming students back from winter break and sending them off on break to remember these differences. This powerful article from PBS discusses the importance of keeping these differences in mind and recommends not using winter break to create assignment topics, but instead promoting and sending out flyers with local resources to assist families in need during the holiday season and winter break.
In the article “Winter Break Is Hard for So Many of Our Students” Trevor Muir discusses the importance of being aware of these differences that students face and keeping that in mind when addressing the class about winter break. The article also discusses the importance of being a listening ear and reaching out to students who seem less excited than normal to go home or are having a difficult time in class.
Once back in the classroom after winter break, it is just as important to provide those who want to discuss their winter break with the class an opportunity to. Providing students with this opportunity allows students to practice communication skills and a sense of community as others listen. GoGuardian reminds it is also important to review classwork and lessons that occurred before the break to get everyone’s brain back in gear. This is also a great time to assess what areas students are struggling with and remind them of the classroom rules.
We understand that winter break can be a joyous time for many students, but for some it can be extremely difficult. We hope that you keep this in mind this winter break and are more conscious when asking students how their break was.