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Oregon Department of Education shares tips for breaks

12/10/2021

The Oregon Department of Education gave some awesome tips on how to handle school breaks, as we know they’re difficult not only for students, but staff as well.

 

“Children, adolescents and adults often find comfort in predictable routines. So interruptions to regular activities during holidays and breaks can be anxiety-provoking. Reactions to these types of stressors can take many forms such as frustration, anger, irritability, sadness, and withdrawal. These typical human stress responses may be particularly evident before, during and after time away from school.”

 

Here are some tips they provided for before and after Winter Break:

 

Foundation:

  • Before Break:
      • Be mindful that breaks and holidays can be difficult, and hold space for different experiences and reactions.
  • After Break:
    • Transitions back to structured environments may be challenging. Provide space and grace for difficult emotions and behaviors.

 

Connection:

  • Before Break:
    • Organize regular, brief individual check-ins with students and staff.
    • Ask students/staff how school, teachers, friends, and/or family can support them in transitioning into a break.
  • After Break:
    • Organize regular, brief individual check-ins with students and staff.
    • Ask students/staff how school, teachers, friends, and/or family can support them in transitioning back from a break.

Community:

  • Before Break:
    • Create opportunities for students, staff and administrators to express gratitude to/for each other.
    • Provide art supplies and time for students and staff to make cards for people they are grateful for, and deliver them as health protocols permit.
  • After Break:
    • Try bringing students into a community circle.
    • Gently remind students of routines, expectations and daily practices.

Health:

  • Before Break:
      • Brainstorm healthy, nurturing activities students, staff and administrators can do alone, with friends, and/or with family.
  • After Break:
    • Create a calm room or space. Give students and staff explicit permission and time to use the space when needed.

Reflection:

  • Before Break:
      • Ask students and staff to write themselves a note of encouragement. Pass these notes back upon return for them to read.
  • After Break:
    • Dedicate time and space each school day for individual or group expressive activities like writing, art, music, movement, experiential learning opportunities, silence, and unstructured time for students and staff to connect with their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and each other.

Creativity:

  • Before Break:
      • Create a class or school feel-good playlist of positive, encouraging songs. Share the link so school community members can play it any time.
  • After Break:
    • Provide time and space for students to set intentions for the new year.
    • Encourage intentions that are positive, nurturing, and not necessarily tied to academics or achievement.
    • Advise students to focus on positive aspirations, not “don’ts”.
    • Have students celebrate their efforts.

Learning:

  • Before Break:
      • Compile a list of optional resources for students to explore over break. This might include videos or readings relevant to course material, fun, experiential activities, or short writing prompts for students to use.
  • After Break:
    • Ease into academics by reviewing pre-break lessons and slowly introducing new concepts.

Resources:

  • Before Break:
      • Remind students and staff that transitions can be challenging, and it is OK to reach out to others.
      • Provide all students, families and staff a list of community/local resources that students, staff and families may access over breaks, like food pantries, free counseling services, or shelters.
  • After Break:
    • Remind students and staff that transitions can be challenging, and it is OK to reach out to others.
    • Provide all students, families and staff a list of community/local resources that students, staff and families may access, like food pantries, free counseling services, or shelters.

 

Are you a staff member of the Oregon School System? Start a discussion with fellow teachers and staff on our discussion board page to share ideas of how to overcome and tackle winter break.

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