Setting Yourself Up For Success After Winter Break

Winter break is coming to an end and the students are ready to return to school. Are they really ready? Chances are they will magically forget all the expectations and routines that you set in place at the beginning of the year.

The students may not have had routines and expectations at home, and transitioning back from break may be difficult for them. Students want structure and routine. When they know what is expected of them, they can be successful. They need to be re-trained and reminded of the school rules.

Setting expectations and routines are essential for a productive learning environment. This is the perfect time to review it all.

Aspects of the expectations:

  • What is the voice level?
  • What does the student need to do get help? Raise their hand, ask a friend.
  • What is the objective or end product? Finish reading your story, edit your writing, draw a picture, etc.
  • What is the student’s body doing? Walking, sitting at their desk, sitting on the floor, facing front in a line, etc.
  • What does the student need to do to participate? Writing, reading, listening, etc.

Make a list of expectations that need to be reviewed. This may include the following:

School Areas

  • Lockers
  • Hallway
  • Bathrooms
  • Lunch room
  • Drinking Fountain
  • Bus, walkers, car line
  • Recess
  • Library

Classroom Areas

  • Cubbies
  • Classroom library
  • Technology area
  • Rug area


  • Morning routine – what’s the order of procedures when they walk in the door?
  • Changing shoes for PE
  • Lining up
  • Rotation of centers
  • Getting materials
  • Cleaning up
  • Calendar time

Break apart the list to review some in the morning and some during the afternoon, and spread them throughout the first week. Review the most important ones first, and review them during the event or right before the event like lunchtime. Don’t overload them in one day, and continue to review, repeat, and practice each day.

Ideas on how to review expectations: (For younger grades, buddies from an older grade can help model or help with the activity).

  • Have students act out the wrong way and correct way.
  • Have students work in groups to make a list of the expectations in certain areas to post. Refer to it when practicing and during the event.
  • Make posters with pictures of the expectations of the area or activity- print images or take pictures of the students doing it.
  • Have students sort images of the expectations into the correct activity/area.
  • Make a video of the students showing the expectations.
  • Have students write and illustrate a class book on the expectations of the classroom/school. You can relate it to cause and effect. “If you run in the hall, then you can fall and get hurt.”

Stay positive and reinforce the expectations whenever you see someone following or not following the expectation. “Great job! I noticed *student’s name* facing front when he lined up.” If there are students who are having difficulty following expectations, stay positive and compliment or acknowledge every time they follow an expectation.

Start the New Year right, and teach and reteach the expectations. This will help the students transition nicely back from break and allow them to continue having a successful school year.

Select your grade level.