As educators there is a piece of us that looks forward to vacations. Sure, we love what we do, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it, but spending the day in a room full of elementary-aged children can be both physically and mentally exhausting. A few days off to recharge our batteries is essential, so a part of us looks forward to vacations.
Unfortunately, many of our students secretly hate them. And worse than vacation is the dreaded “holiday vacation.” It’s the worst.
So, as we approach vacation and our students’ poor decision-making spikes, remember that it may not be building excitement – it may be mounting fear.
- The holidays bring with them new kinds of stress. As adults we do our best to insulate children from that stress, but we’re not perfect. Kids are good at reading us. They know. Many families struggle to make ends meet as they bring the holidays to their children or try to make that first big heating bill. Kids may not know why their parents are stressed, but kids certainly know that their parents are.
- Holidays and vacations help to draw clear lines between the haves and the have nots. Who got what gift? Who when where on vacation? Whose parents worked and who had time off? There’s nothing like a major holiday and a week off to remind the have nots that they are have nots.
- Holidays and vacations are very unpredictable for some students. Home with parents? The usual daycare? A different daycare? At work with parents? School is a stable place: it starts and ends at the same time every day and kids know what they are going to do and when. As adults we look forward to the unscheduled nature of vacation; our students may not. For some, that predictable routine is what gets them through the day.
So, as you watch your students approach vacation and you find yourself feeling more like a behavior manager and less like a teacher, take a moment to think about why. Are your students excited, or terrified?
And that last-day special activity where you break from routine, is that for you or for them?