Whether you’re sleepy from too much turkey, busy making your holiday shopping list, or trying to book your tickets to visit family, school is often the last thing on your mind over the holidays, and we can’t blame you! Helping families keep students engaged over break can be tricky, but with a bit of planning, this time can be spent supporting what you’re doing in the classroom. The best part is you can share this information ahead of time instead of during your break.

As I liked to tell my students, “to explain is to retain!” If a student could teach me a concept we had learned, I knew that they truly understood it. One of the best parts of breaks are the many willing ears your students have access to, such as their cheek-pinching grandparents, excited aunts and uncles, and family friends who need something to fill the time between dinner and dessert. So, prep your parents ahead of time with specific talking points! Before break, post a news item about the books or topics your students have been exploring.

Want to add an unofficial field trip to your school year? Encourage families to take their child to enrichment activities! Many museums, zoos, music halls, libraries, and community centers do specialty events over breaks (and often for discounted prices!) Tell your parents about some opportunities and encourage them to attend! Students can share about what they learned once they’re back in the classroom, and parents can send photos directly to staff via SchoolCNXT messaging!

If you want to give your students a specific assignment, why not one that connects to their break? You could have them collect different “scraps” from their break (sticks and leaves from walks, brochures from museums, napkins from restaurants, a nickel they found in the pool, etc.) and then use them to create a break collage as a class! Students can interview their oldest family member about what their holidays were like as a child. They could write a story or a poem about a fun writing prompt, such as what would happen if their favorite book or television character came over for dinner. They could keep a daily journal about the activities they do over break, then your class could create a bar graph of the different activities once school begins again. Keep in mind that assignments over break will be more successful if they are focused on fun!

How about keeping your students’ blood pumping by creating a competition that all students can participate in? Students can do a photo competition where they have to take a photo of themselves helping others. You could see how many books your students can read over break, or how much time they spend logged on to an educational website (though you may want to give a maximum limit per day, or your students may never leave the screen!). You can create a reminder post about the competition weeks in advance, and set it to forward publish towards the end of break, giving you more time to relax over the holidays while still engaging with your community.

Whether it’s a short holiday break or the long summer ones, breaks are a valuable time to reinforce learning and to keep students excited about school. Thanks to our Schedule Post feature you are able to create posts while school is still in session and schedule them to publish during break! This is a great way to reach out to families when they may need your advice the most without taking away from your vacation time.

Chelsy Gentry, SchoolCNXT Editorial Team and former teacher