By Teachers, For Teachers
Returning from spring break can be quite a challenge for students. They get a taste of the nice weather and the freedom to do as they please, then before they know it’s time to go back to school for a few more months.
Getting back on track and returning to that school-mode momentum can be quite challenging for some students. As a teacher, it’s important to find out how to motivate students after spring break. Whether it’s starting with new engaging material or setting short-term goals, it’s essential that you find a way to keep them on track. Here are a few suggestions to help you learn how to motivate students.
Studies have shown that children are at their best when they are on a schedule because they always know what is coming next throughout the day. Do not falter from your schedule just because the school year is winding down in a few months. A regular school schedule, in conjunction with a good night’s sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition, is best. Students that follow these tips will feel great and be far more motivated to finish the school year off strong because they will be able to focus and concentrate better.
As soon as students get back from break, have them set a few short-term goals for themselves. This can be anything from improving their grades to finishing a set amount of books. Have students think of something simple that they would like to complete by the end of the week. This will be a great motivator for them. Once they reach their weekly goal, have them set a longer-term goal. Goal setting is a wonderful way to keep students motivated because it gives them something to work towards. Once they reach their goal, they will feel great, and who doesn’t like to feel great?
The last thing that your students want is to come back from break and do the same lessons that they did before they left. Think of post-spring break like the beginning of the school year. Revisit your icebreaker and teambuilding activities. Change your bulletin boards up to make new, interactive ones. Find materials that will really draw your students in. Try incorporating more hands-on cooperative learning where you can get your students up and moving. Make learning exciting and you will see your students’ motivation go through the roof!
If you really want to see your students be motivated, then give them something exiting to look forward to. You can do a simple, weekly motivator where students must earn something all week in order to get a luxury on Friday. For example, if you notice they are being kind in all classes, then they will earn a letter from the word “Compliment,” and once all letters are earned, then they receive a luxury at the end of the week. They can earn a movie, a free homework pass, or a treat. Another option is to have a more long-term motivator to look forward to like an end-of-year field day. Older students might like to help plan the field day weeks or even months ahead. The longer you plan it, the longer they will be motivated to partake in it.
Take some time to teach students about giving back to the community. This can be a very rewarding experience for your students, and something that they can take with them for the rest of their lives. Go to a nursing home and put on play, take students to a soup kitchen and let them hand out food to the homeless, or start a food and clothing drive where students must collect canned goods and clothes to give to those in need.
The temperatures are warming up and the spring air is all around us. Use these last few months of school to really tap into your students’ creativity. Go outdoors and let them learn in nature. Take a walk and have students listen to the sounds they hear as they walk, then have them sit and write a story about what they experienced. Make sure you give your students plenty of opportunities to go outside, and you will find that this in itself will be a great motivator for them.
It’s not easy to re-engage your students after they have had so much fun and relaxation over spring break. Just remember that it may take an extra week or two to get them back into the rhythm, but you’ll get there.
How do you motivate students after spring break? Do you have any tips or ideas that work well for you and your classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear them.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.