This year, the winter holidays begin really late in Ontario schools. Our last day of school before the winter holidays is December 23rd. We really can’t get any later than this. I will admit that I love the full week off after Christmas and New Year’s, but I don’t have large holiday gatherings or young children at home, so maybe this is easier for me to say than for some others. I completely understand that feeling of, “I need a holiday,” and maybe being sick this past week was my body’s way of saying, “I need some extra time to rest.” I also know how privileged I am to get two weeks off and to even be able to have this conversation in the first place. This past week or two at school, I would have said, “I think we all need a break.“
- Kids are spinning.
- There are more tears than usual.
- There is more fighting than usual.
- There is more complaining than usual.
- Voices are louder.
- Students almost seem to be screaming at each other rather than talking to each other.
Yes, it might be easy to blame the crazy on the kids, but as adults, how dysregulated are we right now?
- Routines and schedules are different with holiday concerts, upcoming parties, and even a dance or two.
- Many of us are balancing additional home responsibilities with school events. When will we get those presents wrapped? How many people are we having over this holiday? Where will they all sit? What will they all eat? How will I ever get the house cleaned? You get the idea.
- Report cards come up quickly in January, and there is always the concern of, have I taught everything that I need to teach and do I need to get additional data before I start writing anything?
- With more educators off right now — for personal reasons or illnesses — having all jobs covered is always a concern. This is the time of the year when teachers really want and need their preps, and they sometimes need to be cancelled due to staff shortages.
Stress. Adult stress breeds child stress, and then things just circle from there.
The last two weeks were challenging, and we might be coming up on the most challenging week of all. What can we do? I wonder if this might need to be a week with …
- some normal routines in between those times that cannot be normal (e.g., assemblies and dances).
- some additional sensory play, especially in the younger grades, where this play is calming for so many kids.
- some additional time outside to connect, to create, and to explore, knowing that fresh air and exercise can also be calming for so many kids.
- some additional choices of options that you know are calming ones for your students (if that’s movement, sensory play, drawing, writing, reading, or something else altogether).
This week, in addition to the regular things that I do, I also hope that I can bring a sprinkling of calm to adults and kids alike. Connections are sure to matter most of all. By acknowledging the stress, are we then also able to better respond to it? May we all find moments of joy in between the dollops of crazy.