The “Other Side” Of The Holidays: What Do You Do?

On Wednesday night, I participated in a wonderful Twitter chat about the holidays. This was The Mehrit Centre‘s second Twitter chat, and it focused on the importance of self-regulation during the holiday season (see the Storify Story below). I was thinking about this chat last night as I attended our staff Christmas party.

I work with amazing people! They’re caring, supportive, and incredibly funny, and as such, while I consider myself more of an introvert, I do enjoy social staff gatherings. When I walked into the restaurant last night though, I knew that self-regulation would be important for me.

  • Almost 50 staff members came, and the room in the restaurant was VERY full.
  • With different tables of conversations, there was a lot of loud background noise.
  • The restaurant was incredibly stuffy and warm. (As somebody that loves cold, fresh air, heat is a huge stressor for me.)

Breathe Aviva! And breathe, I did. While I was somewhat tempted to turn around and leave the restaurant, I didn’t. Instead, I did some thinking. First, I tried to get a table near the door. It turned out that the first few spots were taken, but a couple of people offered to move around, which was so nice. I could then sit, look at the people that I was talking to, and have my back to more of the noise. I could also easily get up and get some fresh air when needed. Plus, in a wonderful turn of events, I ended up next to the gift exchange table, so I could turn and listen to the funny commentary, while also easily selecting my Secret Santa gift (and not needing to push through a group of people to do so). Win/win!

I actually had a terrific time at the party, got to converse with some people I don’t always get to talk to, and gave myself permission to leave early enough that I didn’t feel stressed out when I got up to go. As I was driving home last night, I couldn’t help but reflect on this experience and also think about my students.

This week is the last week of school before the holidays. While our students have taken limited interest in the holidays overall, and in fact, the most festive thing that we have up is documentation from our pumpkin inquiry (one holiday ago), some holiday celebrations will be happening in the coming days. This week, we have our Breakfast With Santa (where students receive a hot breakfast and a present from Santa) and our Holiday Concert (where we’re performing a song with another Kindergarten class). While both of these experiences are wonderful for the children and are sure to make them excited, they can also be stressful.

  • I think about the crowds in the gym.
  • I think about the noise as various classes of students are talking around the room.
  • I think about the numerous smells (especially of the different foods).
  • I think about the space restrictions.

Which students might struggle the most with these holiday celebrations? What might they do to help them feel better (self-regulate)? How can I support them during these more challenging times (co-regulation)? I believe there’s value in preparing students for these changes in routine. Maybe some students that might struggle the most can choose to stay closer to us and/or choose a seat that might make them feel better. Being aware of how much time we spend at these different events might also be helpful. We can always leave as we finish eating, or in the case of the assembly, after we perform or at a break in the action. With two of us in the classroom, we can also have one person that takes back those students that articulate the need to leave, and another person, that stays with those that are excited, and able, to stay longer. Keeping some familiar routines in the classroom can also help, and providing more movement opportunities after stressful times, may also be beneficial. We’ve noticed that our students love the outdoors and often calm down when moving around outside. With another beautiful weather week ahead, maybe we can also spend some additional time outside, especially on these stressful days. How do you address holiday stress in the classroom, and what do you notice by doing so?

Here’s to a safe, happy, healthy, and relatively stress-free holiday season! 


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