By Michael Tauscher
December marks the end of the calendar year and, for most families, it is coupled with a long winter break from school. It also typically means a departure from the standard week-day and weekend schedules, which can wreak havoc on children who rely on routines to feel safe and secure. To make the most of your time during winter break, I’ve shared some ideas below to make things easier for you and your children.
1. Prepare Ahead of the Change
A week (or more) away from school could bring about a lot of questions from your child, such as, “What are we doing today?” “What’s tomorrow?” “When are we going to do ____?” A day or two before the start of the break, prepare them for the change that will happen. Let your child know what changes are on the horizon and, if it works, have your child help create the updated routine. Use the power of the visual to reduce questions by posting the schedule where they can see it.
2. Keep a Routine
Even though your child won’t have to wake up early to get to school, try to set a “winter break” routine. Children love routine, so anything you can do to give them a sense of leadership and ownership will help them to feel secure. Keep some of the things your child looks forward to each day in the routine. Familiarity goes a long way to keeping children engaged and happy during a hectic time.
3. Go Outside
Depending on where you are during the break from school, schedule time to be outdoors. It could be as simple as exploring the backyard or creating a color wheel of items found in the winter. If you are traveling, take time to park and get out of the car to stretch, run, or do a little jumping-jack cardio. Go for a walk and notice the sky, listen to the wind, and use your senses. Being outside is good for the body, soul, and mind. Click here for more benefits to getting children outside.
4. Be a Winter Break Foodie
During the break your meal routine might change. It’s okay to eat out, indulge in some of those sweet treats, or have an extra helping of that prized dessert from a relative. But, keep in mind the notion of “everything in moderation.” Get your child involved in planning a meal (or two) during the break that is healthy, colorful, and enjoyed by everyone in the family. Schedule your grocery shopping for a day when you can bring your child and spend a little extra time comparing nutrition labels, picking fruits and vegetables, and looking for healthy choices.
5. Cherish Family Time
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be exhausting, leading to divots in the couch from watching TV or surfing social media. Turn off the tech and connect with the PEOPLE around you. Play a fun board game, have a movie night where everyone is present, or ask a relative to share her or his favorite card game. Before eating dinner or a snack, take a moment to share what you are most thankful for with each other. If your child is connecting with a relative from far away, prep them with a few questions about their life. These are all quick ways to connect and learn about what makes your family so special!
6. Set Goals
As the break winds down, yes, your children will need to return to school. Be positive about school starting. While the time together during the break will be memorable, help set your child on the right track by talking positively about the return. Your reentry plan could include having your family set a goal for the month that involves more reading, doing their best in a sport, or less time on technology.
About Michael Tauscher
Michael Tausher has served as the head of Preschool and Lower School at University School of Milwaukee in 2015. He was born and raised on a family-owned farm in Pulaski, Wisconsin, and has a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in educational leadership. He has taught 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, and has overseas teaching experience in Kyoto, Japan.