School breaks…those awesome times of year when you get to have lunch whenever you'd like, schedule appointments mid-day, and take a bathroom break at any given moment. However, coming back from spring break can be a rough transition, especially for students in upper elementary.
For many third graders, this is their first year taking big state tests. While you return from spring break ready to hit the ground running, they return with the anxiety that comes from facing down the days until “testing season”. Throw in some nicer weather, and you've got a recipe for spring fever. While it isn't ideal, its the world we live in, so here are a few great tips to help get your students back on track and focused on learning when they get back from break.
1. Review your expectations right away.
Silly, right? They've made it through six months of your class at this point. They ought to know how to behave, but it's amazing what a week away from the classroom structure can do. It's like one of those memory eraser deals from Men in Black…it's just all gone. Spending 15 minutes on the first day back can save you headaches for weeks to come. (Plus, it gives you a chance to focus on some of those expectation that were starting to fall to the wayside before break.)
It can be easy to skip routines the first few days back. However, hopping right back into the morning work routine can bring comfort and familiarity for students. It reminds them that they know this routine and that nothing has changed over your week apart. (If you didn't have morning work before break, this is also a great time to get it started.)
Kids are talkative when they return. They've been away from friends for a WHOLE WEEK! That is almost forever for third graders. Giving them purposeful time to share their spring break adventures (even if it was just playing video games on the couch) builds classroom community. Get bonus points if you can work this into a lesson…Write about your break? Document on the map where people went? There are tons of great options.
Although they seem simple (and time efficient…if I do say so myself), just these three small tasks can mean the difference between transitioning back from break to a room of wild, crazy monkeys or a room of the sweet learners you said goodbye to just a week before. Of course, if you are lucky enough to do all these things and still end up with a crowd of wild monkeys, here are a few great tips to support your classroom management when Spring Fever hits.