Keeping Kids Focused Between Thanksgiving and Holiday Break

Nov 03, 2023
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The time between Thanksgiving and holiday break or winter break is known as an educational wasteland. Students tend to be more concerned with their gift lists and which games will be compatible with their new video game systems rather than their studies. Unfortunately, this time is also right in the middle of the school year, when things need to be moving at full speed in order to meet your objectives. The secondary teachers are even moving toward semester exams. So, how can you ensure that the time between Thanksgiving and winter break isn’t a bust? We’ve got the tips you need to keep students engaged and focused.

Making the Most of the Time Between Thanksgiving and Holiday Break

How do we keep everything on track in the classroom in what is known as the most distracting time of the school year? Below are some of our recommendations to keep students on track.

No Countdowns

We get it; you’re excited about break, too. So much so that you’ve put a countdown on your board with X amount of school days before the break; you and your students can stare at it together, willing the number to go down.

Of course, if you’re staring at the number, nothing else is getting done. So, try to avoid any reminders of the upcoming freedom. Trust me: the students know how close they’re getting to being free, and you have probably programmed an alert in your phone’s calendar. You don’t need any further reminders. 

That said, it probably won't hurt to make sure you and your students spend a moment going through your December agenda and reviewing any important due dates for assignments, projects, or end-of-semester exams once you return from Thanksgiving.

Maximize Engagement

This takes a little experience and trial and error, but if you know which of your units is the most engaging for the year, make it a point to schedule it during this month. Of course, you would like to think all your lessons are engaging, and you might be right. But if you’re honest, there is always a favorite in your arsenal.

If it’s truly your favorite unit, you will inherently have more enthusiasm for the content. That enthusiasm will rub off on the students, hopefully keeping the students focused more on the content and less on the holiday around the corner. Check out a few more tips from educators on how to boost engagement this time of year.

Assess Students Constantly

Keeping an eye on the pulse of the class is very important in these distracting times. You want to know quickly if the kids have started slipping. More importantly, you want them to know that they are falling behind.

This doesn’t have to mean quizzes every day (although that would definitely keep the kids focused). Employ a mix of informal assessment, online tasks and data, and tracking. Also, make sure the kids understand the data you are gathering and can see for themselves the effects their lack of attention may be having on their progress. You might even want to employ some gamification ideas, like achievements and badges, to keep them striving forward.

Final Thoughts: Focusing Between Thanksgiving and Holiday Break

It’s no secret that the few weeks between Thanksgiving and holiday break are some of the toughest for students and teachers alike. Fortunately, with some strategic thinking and extra attention, you can keep your students engaged with your classroom material so you’re prepared for the new year. 

Looking for more ideas on keeping your students focused? Check out these six classroom strategies you can implement today to motivate students.

This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated.

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