The holidays are over, sleeping in is a thing of the past, and schedules are starting to pick up and fill up once again. With winter break in your rearview mirror, students and adults alike can struggle with getting back into a normal routine and staying focused on the tasks in front of them. Winter break is a great time to rest, relax, and refresh, but how do you switch back into school mode after those two glorious weeks off? Here at San Diego Virtual School, we know the struggle. We know the challenge of self-motivation, self-discipline, and pulling yourself out of that wintertime lull. Check out some of our top tips to help students switch back into the school mindset after a few weeks off in the winter.
Get to Bed Early
This can be done in the last few days leading up to the return to school. After a few weeks off from school, with all the staying up late and sleeping in, it can be hard to shift your body back to the normal sleep and wake periods of school schedules. Students should be encouraged to go to sleep at a reasonable time during the last few days of the break, and that should make it easier to readjust to waking up early when school starts back. Continuing to encourage this habit during the rest of the school year will help kids stay focused and alert during school hours, and it will help them perform better and avoid the sleep deprivation that is so prominent in young people today.
Prepare & Eat Healthy Meals
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to help you focus on the year ahead and what you want to accomplish in the upcoming months. It’s a typical resolution to eat better, cook more at home, and minimize eating at fast food restaurants or consuming junk food. You can encourage your students to get back on track with their school schedule and their studies with healthy meals and snacks. When their bodies are being fed with nutrients and vitamins, they will function better and have an easier time staying awake and focusing on schoolwork. Get the kids involved in some meal prep and they’re likely to appreciate the time you put into cooking and be more willing to eat whatever is served.
Start New Routines Right Away
Whatever new routines you’re going to implement during the New Year, start them as soon as school and work kick off again. Waiting a week or two to “adjust” to the new schedule will only make your routines falter once you do begin them. Start the very first day back with better routines, such as eating a good breakfast, cleaning up bedrooms every afternoon, spending time studying each night, and so on. Have a conversation before school starts again and discuss the new routines and the expectations for each person, and then move forward implementing them with gusto.
Be Realistic with Extracurricular Activities
It’s incredibly common these days for kids to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Parents spend hours each week driving kids from ballet to football to band to tennis, and while these activities are fun and can be beneficial for students, they can also be detrimental. Figure out what your family wants to prioritize and make time for those activities, but try to minimize the other extracurriculars. Be realistic about what you all have time for, and make sure you consider the fact that students need to do schoolwork and everyone needs some downtime each night as well. Having your kids overwhelmed the first day back to school because of a packed schedule isn’t going to beneficial for anyone.
Improve the Study Space
Hopefully, you started the school year with a designated study space that was orderly, clean, and conducive to productive learning. Winter break is a great time to improve this space or create one if you haven’t already. Make sure the area is free of clutter, is in a quiet but well-lit area, and has ample space for books, computers, notebooks, and other school supplies. If your student does online schooling or spends several hours a day working on homework, look back at the last semester of school and analyze how effective their study space was. You may need to pick a new place in the house for a study area, or you may need to make a few different ones so they can switch it up if they’re having trouble focusing in one space.
Revamp Organizational Systems
Take time over winter break to clean out notebooks, empty out backpacks, and reflect on the organizational efficiency of the previous semester. It may be that your organizational systems were utilized well and worked perfectly. Or it may be that they could use some reworking and a more solid commitment to using them. Talk with your children about how organized they felt, how easy or hard it was to find things, and if they missed any assignments because of a lack of organization. Discuss what can be done more effectively and implement some strategies to help your student stay organized and on top of their schoolwork all semester long.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one about organization. Planners should be large enough to fit everything going on in a student’s life—school assignments (including tests, papers, homework, and other deadlines), sports and extracurricular activities, home responsibilities, work commitments, and more. If your student’s planner from the previous semester didn’t work well for them, purchase or make a new one that will be more helpful and conducive to organization and scheduling. Planners nowadays are extremely versatile—you can find simple and basic ones or ones with a ton of bells and whistles. See what works for your student and help them embrace their planner and get organized moving forward.
Analyze Previous Goals & Set New Ones
Hopefully, your student set some goals at the beginning of the school year. These may have been academic, personal, sports-related, or something else. Help them look back at what they’ve accomplished and determine if they’ve reached any of their goals. If they haven’t, help them vision cast a little bit and come up with some actionable steps to accomplish their original goals. Also encourage them to set new ones for the New Year. These can be related to the current school year, an organization outside of school that they’re involved in, or something in their personal lives. Congratulate them for their success in working towards their goals and encourage them to press forward to achieve even more success in the New Year.
Make Time Each Day for Schoolwork
This is one of those routine things that should be started from day one. Even if no new material is presented on the first day back to school, students should get in the habit of reviewing notes from the day and looking ahead to what is next in each of their classes. If no new information is given at school, kids can read ahead, look back over previous notes, review an old test, or something similar. They should make time each and every day for schoolwork and studying so that they stay on top of their studies and their assignments.
The New Year is inching closer and with it comes the promise of new adventures, new experiences, and new successes. Encourage your students to look forward with excitement, hope, and positivity, and help them switch back into school mode quickly and easily with these tips.