Students always look forward to winter break. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting programs, including academic calendars, students will still make plans for the upcoming holidays. Normally, they would have had a wide variety of plans set for the extended break, but limiting factors like lockdowns and restricted movement may mean most of the time will be spent indoors.
Teachers and parents both have a collective responsibility for young ones, especially concerning what they do during school breaks. This time that would usually be spent on resting, traveling, unwinding, or celebrating could also be used for other constructive things. Many students won’t make sound decisions on their own, so they’ll need guidance from the adults in their lives to use this time wisely.
Not Everyone Looks Forward to Winter Break
Unfortunately, not all students get excited about winter break. Some students will be lonely with little or no family time, nothing to celebrate, and nothing to get excited about.
Teachers are likely to overlook some of what their students go through while away from school. Interactive sessions between teachers and students during the school term can be used to identify some of the challenges these kids could be going through back home.
While most students cannot wait for the last day of the school term to come, there are others who dread the moment. These kids start missing the comfort of the classroom, the company of their classmates, and the love of their teachers.
Strategies to Help Students Enjoy Winter Break and Make It Worthwhile
As teachers, there is often nothing you can do about the situations students face at home. Yet there are several ways to help them prepare for the time away from school during the weeks leading to winter break. These ideas do not need a lot of time or resources, but they may have a significant impact on students.
Grant Students the Opportunity to Serve
No matter our circumstances, we can all be of service to others. There is something about giving and bringing joy, and it is no different for your students. Find different ways your class can serve collectively over the school winter break. Consider acts of kindness for a needy person or family in your community, or even have students write thank-you notes to health workers handling COVID-19 patients.
Service presents one of the best ways to engage students, and teachers have the opportunity to orchestrate service projects for their students.
Equip Students with Different Resources
It is during the holidays when most charity drives take place. Food or toy drives are likely happening in different locations around you. Students can get excited about such events, but they may need someone to connect them. If there are concerns about lack of proper winter gear or food security, your school’s guidance counselor can be of great help.
As a tip, do not give out any gifts without first speaking to the student’s family or the school administration. Also, never single out a student for special help in front of classmates. Instead, privately connect needy students with drives, charitable programs, and other resources that can provide help.
Start Preparing for Exams
The winter break this year comes at a time when almost everyone is bored with staying indoors. Governments in some areas are implementing stricter movement measures amid a second wave of the Coronavirus outbreak. It is the best time to encourage students to prepare for upcoming term exams while at home.
Most schools administer exams shortly after the winter break, so the timing couldn’t be better. If you can organize virtual sessions with your students, it would be better. Make use of the GoGuardian video conferencing tool when classes are not in session.
Supply review materials before kids leave for the break, and if possible, set targets for the students to cover specific parts of the curriculum on their own. That way, you’ll ensure they remain engaged in positive activities throughout the winter break.
Let Students Be Teachers
There is no better time for students to teach their peers about activities they enjoy. For example, they may love playing tennis, baking, or playing online and outdoor games. Allow students to teach others and learn what they don’t know from their peers. Many will relish in the responsibility, especially when others are looking to them for guidance.
A good example is the Genius Hour Project, where students can make creative projects and present them before the class using either multimedia or even traditional platforms. Student engagement is enhanced when students can claim a stake in learning.
Check on Your Students Once in a While
Sometimes teachers understand children better than their parents. Depending on how well you know your students, what they love, and their experiences, set out to engage each of them at least once a week. Reach out to them to see how they are doing. Find out how they are enjoying the winter break and what keeps them busy. Give them ideas to keep them busy and productive until schools reopen.
When there is a strong relationship between teachers and students, communication becomes easy. Students will trust their teachers with secrets, sometimes including domestic issues that could derail their academic performance in school. Try to get a feel for the situation at home and whether the environment is conducive for doing some of the constructive activities you have in mind.
Follow-up calls should be determined by the intensity of the matter at hand. In the end, students will feel how important they are to you and society at large.
Seek Out Volunteer Hours
Students can accumulate several hours of community service during the winter break. Apart from the typical opportunities known to everyone, a short holiday is a big opportunity for students to be useful in their immediate environment. However, teachers or parents should encourage students to find value in the projects they are engaged in throughout the break. They should be able to see beyond community service being a valuable addition to their resumes, to understand the virtue of helping others.
Be on the lookout for the many holiday festivities that might be looking for volunteers, and inform students ahead of time. Accompanying them to some of these activities means a lot to your students and helps them grow to be responsible citizens.
Learning Never Stops with GoGuardian
It is highly likely that most schools will rush this year’s syllabus to make up for lost time. Teachers understand too well there is no time to waste, and a lot can be covered during the winter break. Everything depends on how well they organize their students in and out of the classroom. The Video Conferencing feature in GoGuardian Teacher™ comes in handy for these purposes. Teachers have full control over what students do in class and can make situation-based suggestions to help students have a constructive winter break.
Besides, students have had a lot of time confined in their homes where all they can do is play online games, chat with their friends, and watch TV. Some mid-break learning could be a better way to get their minds off the difficulties of 2020.