Getting Through the Winter ‘School Blues’
It’s January, It’s Cold, It’s Back to School. Ugh!
Re-entry into the new semester for students of all ages, including college students, is often quite a struggle. Getting back into the swing of things after being off for several days or weeks for the holidays takes some real effort. Even getting back to normal eating, sleeping and homework schedules is tough. But with planning, consistent routines and a positive attitude, students can transition back to their normal hectic pace, start back up with classes and dive into social activities.
Reinstate Daily Routines
Ease back into school by reestablishing daily schedules and following them as closely as possible. Rituals promote a sense of security and stability for children. Consistent morning routines, regular meal times, homework study hours, designated exercise and recreation times and bedtime schedules can help them get back on track.
Post a calendar on the refrigerator or in a central location, so you can keep track of weekly activities, such as sports practices, music lessons, study groups and doctor’s appointments.
Start waking the kids up at their normal school time several days before they go back, even if they stayed up late the night before. They will likely have no trouble going to bed on time on days when they woke up early.
Refocus the Kids’ Attitudes about School
Have the kids make a short list of things they like about school, classes, teachers, friendships and extracurricular activities. Start working on the list a day or two before the holiday break ends, so the good memories are fresh in their minds.
If your kids have a reading list, read one of the books and ask them questions. If your kids take their lunch to school, make a calendar with different food options for the first week when they go back.
Participate in School-Sponsored Activities
For older students, encourage them to find ways to get involved outside of the classroom to explore interests and meet new people. Active involvement will help them build strong connections with peers, teachers and coaches. It’s easier to get back into the routine after the holidays if they plan have engaging and exciting activities to look forward to.
Avoid Procrastinating, then Reward Yourself
If you are a college student, try to work ahead on your school assignments and reward yourself when you accomplish tasks. Don’t let the post-holiday blues keep you from meeting your goals; a lack of motivation can lead to a backlog of school work and an ugly list of incomplete assignments. Start projects early, finish homework ahead of schedule and prepare for tests and quizzes several days before testing dates. Reward yourself with treats, such as a special outing, and enjoy the free time you saved by avoiding procrastination.
Set Your Sights on Some Goals
As part of New Year’s resolutions, encourage your children to set some school-related goals, such as raising a math grade by five points or making one new friend each month. Set your own goals as well—maybe getting up a few minutes earlier each morning to have lunches packed before waking the kids or to give yourself a half hour to exercise or meditate.
Make it Fun
Earmark one of your child’s Christmas presents as a special one for the first day back to school. It may be a new shirt, new shoes, a new backpack, and zipper pull or locker decoration. Your child will be eager to get back to school to show the new item to his or her friends. Getting back to school after the extended holiday break doesn’t have to be as stressful as taking a test. Remember to stick as close as you can to the normal wake-up and bedtime routine during the break, but don’t worry about the times when the holiday keeps you out late—just get back on schedule the next day. Routinely engage them in positive conversations about the return to school while they’re still enjoying their break.
By Cynthia R. Thiers, MA, Therapist Mediator
©2018 Alpha Resource Center, LLC