7 Simple Tips For Returning From Winter Break

A January 2024 calendar with a cup of coffee.

Returning from winter break can be difficult for all of us. Students and educators struggle to return from a fun holiday season full of family, friends, video games, Netflix, food, and sleep. Help your students and yourself transition from chill-mode to school-mode with these 7 simple tips.

A hearty welcome back from winter break

Start the first day back with a warm, heartfelt welcome. Create a welcoming atmosphere by focusing on the new month and year with positive messages and colorful decor. I like to remove all of the holiday and December decorations before break to start the new year. Consider a simple, sharing activity to discuss holiday highlights and discuss experiences. Setting a positive tone from the beginning helps students ease back into the routine.


Take some time for both you and your students to reflect on the previous semester or months of school. What worked well? What could be improved? Use this time of reflection as an opportunity to reset expectations and discuss any necessary adjustments to the classroom environment or routines.


Review the daily schedule, weekly schedule and classroom rules. We can’t expect our students who often live only in the moment to remember something from weeks ago. These frequent reviews of routines and rules allow students to internalize these important expectations. Reduce uncertainty for students by explaining the schedule, routines, and rules and other changes from the previous schedule.

ICEBREAKER ACTIVITIES When returning from winter break

Start the first day back with interactive icebreaker activities to re-establish a sense of community. These activities can be educational and entertaining, helping students reconnect with their peers and get back into the rhythm of learning. Here is an example of a fun, free activity that is perfect for upper elementary and middle school students. Students attempt to get 5 in a row while also preventing their partner from obtaining 5 in a row. This Winter 5 In A Row game is similar to Tic-tac-toe but more challenging.



Ease into the post-holiday return with mindfulness activities when returning from winter break. Incorporate short, guided mindfulness sessions to help students refocus and reduce any anxiety they may feel about returning to school. Techniques such as deep breathing or quick meditation can make a significant difference and help our students to center themselves and focus. Teaching and practicing mindfulness will help our students throughout the day and throughout their lives. In addition, provide short, frequent movement breaks for stretching young bodies that are unaccustomed to sitting for long periods of time.

goal setting for the new year

Encourage students to set academic and personal goals for the upcoming months. Discuss the importance of setting realistic and achievable goals. This not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also motivates students to strive for success. For students with IEP services, review and update classroom accommodations with them and staff members. This is especially important for students who may have schedule changes when returning from winter break or at the semester end.

celebrate achievements

Highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of both individuals and the class as a whole when returning from winter break. Whether it’s academic achievements, personal growth, or positive behavior, acknowledging success fosters a positive and motivated learning environment.

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Any other suggestions that you have for easing the return after winter break? Please comment and share your ideas!