Transitioning Back From Winter Break: Effective Management Strategies


Young students may struggle to get back into the swing of things after the long holiday break. In fact, it can feel like starting all over again! This is especially true for young kindergarteners! In this post, I will share some classroom management strategies you can use to help your students transition back from winter break. 

Transitioning back from winter break

7 Tips for Transitioning Back from Winter Break

Returning from winter break can be challenging for teachers AND students. I wanted to share some tips to help this transition go as smoothly as possible. Not only will these ideas and resources help you ease back into your learning routine, but they’ll also help you set up your class for a successful second half of the school year.

1. Reconnect with Your Students

Remember that relationships are at the heart of effective classroom management. It’s essential that you take some time to reconnect with your students as soon as you can. Your students will have had a wide variety of experiences while they have been away from school. Due to this, they will also have varying degrees of excitement to be back in your classroom. Some will be eager to return to the consistency and predictability of your classroom, while others will be sad to leave the comforts of being home all day.

By checking in with each of your students when they return, you will be fostering important relationships with them as individuals. This will also help you gauge how they’re feeling about being back in school. This temperature check will go a long way for your classroom management as you get back to your regular routine.

Smiling teacher kneeling to help a student

2. Set Realistic Expectations

However, don’t try to jump right back into a full day of learning on your first day back from break. You’re just setting yourself up for frustration! Instead, plan some simple learning activities that will help your students ease back into things. You might decide to set just two or three learning goals for the students to accomplish on the first day back and then consider anything additional to be a bonus! It’s amazing what this small adjustment can do for your mindset and the overall tone of your classroom.

3. Get Back to Basics

Take some time to get back to the basics and reteach your classroom rules and procedures as needed. Just like the beginning of the school year, it’s worth your time to review your expectations regularly during the first week after winter break. You’ll save so much time on behavior management and redirection in the long run!

After two weeks away from school, it shouldn’t be surprising that your students might need to practice things like sitting at the carpet and lining up for recess. Be sure to build a little bit of buffer into your schedule for the first week after winter break. This will give you time to have students practice these procedures the correct way and rebuild those good habits!

Our Carpet Expectations bulletin board with posters

4. Use Visuals

Visual supports can help you in your efforts to review classroom expectations. They can reinforce what you’re saying so you don’t have to constantly stop what you’re doing to redirect students. Instead, you can grab the students’ attention and point to the visual as a reminder. Any time we can redirect behavior without adding more language to the situation is a win!

5. Prioritize Simplicity and Consistency

Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to re-establishing your classroom expectations, and the easiest way to be consistent in your classroom management is to keep things simple!

The fresh start of the new year is a great time to try out a new behavior management system from day one. Choose a simple one that makes it easy for you to maintain consistency. You might try a build-a-reward chart or class cookie set.

Unicorn build a reward system

6. Address Individual Behavior Choices

A whole-class incentive is a great way to target specific behaviors that your students need to improve. However, it’s also important to address individual behavior choices – both positive and negative.

My favorite way to do this is using glow and grow notes. They are my go-to for motivating positive behavior and addressing unwanted behaviors. The best part is that they are easy to implement in the classroom. Just send home one glow note per day and grow notes as needed.  Be sure to check out my post about this behavior management tool if you’d like more details about how to use it in your classroom.

Animal themed glow and grow notes

7, Have Your Systems Ready to Go

Whether it’s making copies of your glow and grow notes, laminating visuals, or cutting out your reward system, be sure to have everything prepped and ready to go when you come back to school! This will help you and your students stay on track from day one. It will also help you gather the documentation for individual students who need additional support. 

Printable Classroom Management Tools for Kindergarten

But don’t worry! You don’t have to spend your precious winter break printing off behavior notes and reward systems. I have put together something to help you set up simple classroom management systems that will be ready to go in January.

In this bundle of classroom management tools for kindergarten teachers, you’ll find everything you need to get your classroom back on track after winter break. It’s full of printable reward systems, behavior notes, individual behavior incentives, and more! You’ll find plenty of seasonal options that will help grab your students’ attention in the post-holiday lull.

Just head over to the Teaching Exceptional Kinders shop or TPT to take a closer look at everything included in this bundle. You’ll be sure to find some tools that will help you get the new calendar year off to a smooth start!

Teacher Toolkit - Classroom and Behavior Management

Save These Tips for Transitioning Back from Winter Break

Be sure to save these tips and resources so you can find them later! Just add the pin below to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest. You’ll be able to quickly and easily find this post when you’re ready to start thinking about coming back from winter break.

Transitioning back from winter break - classroom management tips


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