By: Mark DiStefano – Superintendent Beaver Dam Unified School District
Setting the Stage for a Calm Holiday Season
While most of us look forward to the holiday season with anticipation, the holidays are often a time of both excitement and stress for children and adults. In the weeks leading up to holidays, you may observe your child as more excitable, giggly, fidgety, irritable, or tired. As a parent, you may feel the same way as you navigate shopping, family visits, making meals, travel, changes in schedules, etc. The same is observed at school.
What can parents do to help children stay on track and continue learning during the holiday season? Calmness, consistency, and structure are key factors to reduce holiday stress and distractions. The following are some additional strategies that are helpful:
Maintain routines and review your expectations with your child. Be sure to connect with your child’s classroom teacher to discuss how things are going. Notice and reinforce positive behaviors that you see, and ensure your praise is very specific. Help your children cope by modeling positive thinking and behavior. Children need to hear adults thinking out loud positively and using a “can do” approach.
Self-care is vital for the adults in the lives of our children. Children handle excitement and stress as well as the adults around them. Healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and adequate sleep guard against the stress of the holidays. Having friends and staying connected to friends and loved ones can also fight against the holiday stress.
Sometimes the holiday season is too overwhelming for children. If that occurs, reach out for help, either from family and friends, community supports, or from school. On a daily basis, the student-services staff of school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses work with teachers and parents. In the Beaver Dam Unified School District, our student-services staff provide support to students by consulting with teachers and parents and meeting with students individually. When needed, our staff partners with community professionals to help the students and parents. Contact your child’s principal or school counselor if you have questions about supports at school. For more information, visit the student services staff webpage at www.bdusd.org.
“Keep Learning going During Holiday and Vacation Times,” Mike Anderson and Margaret Berry Wilson, Responsive Classroom Blog, November 1, 2010.
“Resiliency: Strategies for Parents and Educators, “Virginia Smith Havey, Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP 2004