Engage with families throughout the transition.
As we mentioned, students may have a variety of experiences during the break. They may spend time with family members that they haven’t seen in a while, they may have visitors or be visiting others, they may have few limitations placed on what they like to do (e.g., video games, sleeping), or they may spend more time than usual alone. Any and all experiences have the potential to impact student behavior when they return to school; the more we know about the experiences students have had over the break, the more effective our supports can be. For example, if family members share that the break was busy and social with lots of visitors and events, a student may continue to desire frequent and intense socialization – or, conversely, the student may want to spend time alone. The stronger the relationship we have with our students (and their families), the more we’re able to predict and prevent challenges. Similarly, if a family member shares that a student has played video games almost constantly throughout the break, the student may struggle with a return to structure, and we can expect some mistakes – and apply the strategies we’ve discussed above.
For students and staff, the transition back to school from an extended break can be both exciting and challenging, but we can minimize the challenges by reviewing our expectations and routines, building in time for students to share with us and each other, expecting and planning for mistakes, increasing our prompts and precorrection, and staying engaged with our students’ families. As always, we remain supportive and helpful, emphasizing prevention rather than reaction. Wishing you all the best in the new year!