5 Tips for Returning to Routines

Returning to school routines after a holiday break can be difficult for students and exhausting for you. Here are a few tips to save you time and frustration as you help your students’ transition back to a fun but structured learning environment.

1. Talk It Out

Good vacation or bad your students are anxious to share with you and their friends about the time you’ve spent apart. Planned sharing will eliminate most potential interruptions and make your students feel valued. Start your day off with giving students time to draw and write about their favorite part of break. Allow time for students to share with a partner, small group, or the class.

Download these fun writing papers to get your students thinking about what they want to share!

2. Review, Review, Review!

No matter how urgent it seems to resume content instruction, it is important to take time to review rules and procedures before you get started. Remember some of your students haven’t had any structure the entire time they’ve been gone so return with the expectation they’ve forgotten how to move from their desk to the carpet and how to sit when they get there. A great way to engage your students while reactivating prior knowledge is for you to demonstrate a non-example of a behavior and then ask for a volunteer(s) to model the proper way. (i.e. Have three students act out the above scenario with the expectation that they will push in their chairs, move quietly to the carpet, and sit crisscross applesauce when they get there.) Plan to review your daily schedule too. Be sure it is posted somewhere highly visible in your classroom.

3. Brain Breaks

About now you probably have some students starting to fidget. Maybe some even drifting off since bedtimes were abandoned for the last week or two. Take the opportunity to get them up and moving! Research suggest that being physically active helps us learn better and giving students breaks to move about helps them to be more alert and productive during quiet periods. You can use a website such as Go Noodle, or play a game of around the world math facts. Short on time, no problem, a few commands from Simon Says will also do the trick.

4. Put the FUN in Fundamentals

We know you’ve got more concepts to cover than hours in the day, but avoid the urge to jump straight into new curriculum. Spend a day or two reviewing material from where you left off and doing a little basic skill practice. This will not only ease your students back into learning but help them to feel confident as they approach new content. As you begin to introduce new topics think about ways to capture attention and peak curiosity. Try opening your science lesson with an experiment or have students act out a scenario to lead into a social studies lesson.

5. Set Measurable Goals

As adults we’ve learned at times we need to reflect and set goals to reach our desires. Upon returning from a break it is often a good time to help our students to understand the importance of this tradition. Talk with your students about the purpose of goals and how setting them can be of benefit to them at school and home. Explain how to choose measurable and attainable goals. Choose a simple way for students to begin such as a reading goal. Their goal might be to read a certain number of books or reach a certain reading level. Help them decide what steps they will need to take to reach their goal. Perhaps deciding on a certain number of days or minutes per day they will read. You can also set class goals such as collecting cans of food for a shelter. Try creating a fun bulletin board to display their progress and plan some type of reward to celebrate meeting their goals.

Try this free craftivity when talking about goals!


  1. Great post ladies! I'm just not ready to go back yet:)

  2. Great advice for teachers regardless of years of experience! ~Denise

  3. Thanks for an informative blog post. Returning from break is always a challenge for both teachers and students.

  4. Great tips! Sunday night is getting closer and closer- love the 'FUN' section! ;)
    Best of luck with the new blog!
    Crayons & Cuties In Kindergarten

  5. I love your blog!! Thanks for the great post!