It’s one week into the school holidays and you may be already wondering “how am I going to survive 5 more weeks with these little (or not so little) critters hanging around!?” Amiright!?
Teachers deal with up to 30 of the cherubs at a time. All day. 5 days a week. So in that time we pick up a trick or two.
Here are some sanity-saving ideas that may allow your hair to remain firmly on your head and the steam to stay inside rather than outside your ears.
Maintain a schedule. While I don’t suggest that you mock up an itinerary for each moment of each day, it may help to block out sections for planning activities. Consider what could be done out of the house in the mornings, then perhaps some quiet time at home in the afternoons, followed by some cooking adventures, outings or sleepovers in the evenings. This kind of stability and routine will also play a part in maintaining regular bed times and wake up times, further aiding your patience quota and the length of your temper.
Give children voice and choice. Now that you’ve set up some time foundations, allow your child/ren to brainstorm all of the things they would like to do during the holidays and make a list. Giving them a voice early on will mean less tantrums and pleading and negotiating later. It also sets the stage for choice-making as you plan each week; “On Monday or Tuesday, would you rather go to the library or have a play date with Cynthia?” You aren’t guaranteeing that somehow, magically, the time and money that would be required for everything they want to take place will, but you’re respecting their need for some control and autonomy over their lives. You, of course, get the final say.
Have distractions up your sleeve. Every good teacher has a bunch of “jobs” up their sleeves that they could very easily do themselves but, instead, they purposely save up for when they need them. These errands are child-friendly and usually involve some sort of movement and not a lot of time. Examples of this in my classroom have been watering the plants, cleaning the white board, tidying the chapter books on the bookshelf, delivering something to the teacher next door etc. Now, when a student gets into a bad mood or claims to be bored and this sees them begin to argue with another student, tap their pencil loudly in order to try and get other people’s attention, or some other form of annoying behaviour… out comes the “hey, Jack, can you do me a favour please?” Distraction is the key here. A little reset is often all that the boy or girl needs in order to rejoin the regular schedule of events.
Use rewards wisely. It doesn’t take much time spent with kids to figure out what they love to do. For some, it’s time on the computer, for others it’s drawing. Some love hands-on things like experiments while others enjoy puzzles like the Rubix cube. Once you’ve discovered what these passions are for the children in your care, don’t give it to them straight away! Save it up to be used as a reward for times when things don’t go to plan. When you’re called in to work and have to take them to after school care when you had planned to go to the public swimming pool, they’ve earned some reward time that night. If they’ve gone to bed without arguing and read a book to their sister before going to sleep, they get some reward time the following day.
Use teacher websites to your advantage. Students usually have access to online school programs that they are encouraged to play on all year ‘round but, beyond this, some websites that are designed specifically for teachers actually have great activities that parents can use with their kids at any time of year. Many such resources are available (for free) from websites including studyladder, coolaustralia, twinkl,teachthis, enchantedlearning, teachstarter and khanacademy.
Keep them engaged and stimulated. Even though they’re not at school, there are some things you can do to help kids maintain what they’ve learnt and also expose them to what is coming up when school returns. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/09/30/during-the-holidays/
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