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Welcome to Julie Billiart Schools, a family of K-8 coeducational, independent day schools for children with learning differences.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

By Sarah Richlak

Tips for supporting your child during breaks in the school year

For most kids, a day off of school is a fun adventure. For kids with learning differences, it can create uncertainty. What can parents do during temporary breaks like snow days, spring break, and even summer, to help children thrive?

During these off days from school, implementing routines and practices at home that are consistent with your student’s typical school day can be a huge benefit, as they provide comfort and ease anxiety, especially for students with learning and social differences. The best way to handle those days away from the classroom is to be prepared, so check out some of our tips and tricks to achieve consistency during your student’s academic breaks!

We asked JB Westlake Principal, Samantha Evers, for some of her thoughts on extending consistency outside of the classroom.

Plan out for any breaks in advance if possible (summers, winter and spring break)

“I highly recommend communicating with your child’s teachers to prepare for a strong transition to an extended break.,” Evers says. “Get ideas of what systems are in place at school that can be carried out easily at home.” As you gather information from your child’s educators, you can develop a plan for tackling an extended break. This would also give you an opportunity to do some basic prep for those occasional isolated academic holidays or snow days!

Keep adjustments to your child’s current school day routine moderate

Implementing similar routines and practices can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort for your child by extending their classroom structure to your home. To keep things consistent, consider sticking with similar bed, wake up, and nap times. Designate learning, tech-free and quiet times. You could even sit down for lunch around when they would typically eat. Keeping this kind of consistency eases anxiety for your child and replaces it with the habitual comfort of their normal routine.

“Research shows that students with learning differences thrive with structured routines set in place,” Evers says. “While routines are beneficial for all students with varying abilities, students with learning differences will be able to transition to and from extended breaks with less disruption when structured routines are in place.”

Lay out rules and break schedules (bed time, chores, family plans, etc.)

In addition to keeping to normal routines as closely as possible, it is important to outline schedules for academic breaks to your child. “It is very important for students to have expectations to fulfill while on extended breaks from school,” Evers says. “While enjoying time off is important, it will make the transition back to school much easier when structured is set in place.”

“Set a schedule for your child that they can follow independently. You can share your daily schedule with them as well so that they know what is expected of them during the day and what they can expect from you,” Evers says. Ways to accomplish this may be creating a behavior checklist, sharing a visual schedule, doing a social story about breaks, providing practice worksheets, games, and academic resources, and calm down tools.

Make time for activities: physical, creative, and learning

Activities, whether learning or for pleasure, can be incorporated into your child’s break routine for some good release of energy and emotion. For learning exercises, send your child outside to spell words in the snow in the winter or chalk on the sidewalk in the warmer months! You can also ask your child’s teacher for recommendations for learning websites or apps. Reading is always another great option for practicing vocabulary on days off.

Looking for some STEM activities? Try having your child build with household items- these could be legos, straws, sticks from the yard, and even cardboard. Physical activities are great to implement as breaks for homework or quiet times. Get creative with it- spend some time setting up an obstacle course in the house to challenge each family member to complete in the shortest time, or try some yoga in the living room. If you want to get some fresh air, find time for bike rides and walks in the warmer weather, and build the most awesome snowman you can in the winter!

Embrace Challenges

If you’re working from home due to COVID-19, it may be challenging to manage your daily workload while your child is at home. Your child may take after your work habits! “Plan a fun lunch after you both get through your morning tasks, or work together in your home office space,” Evers suggests. “They can quietly color or do a quiet activity while you complete your work. End your day debriefing with you both accomplished and pre-planning tomorrow's schedule.”

Academic breaks and snow days can be stress-free with the right balance of routine and fun in place. Just remember that you’ve got this! Utilize what you know works for your family and build from there with these tips.

open-quote They have all the resources necessary, specialized to the individual learning of each child, and the heart that goes with it. I don't think we would have stayed in Ohio if it wasn't for JB! close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools gave us hope after our daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability. At JB, she thrived in the small classes, received necessary therapies, and developed the self-confidence to ask for help when she needed it. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote All of the teachers and staff at JB are patient and willing to take the extra time to make sure we, as parents, understand and are comfortable. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words how grateful I am that you saw my daughter for all that she is today and all that she is yet to become. close-quote

Tammie Sommer

open-quote Julie Billiart Schools has helped my child become a better version of himself. The teachers and therapists at JB really know and understand how to reach children who learn differently. close-quote

JB Parent

open-quote My kids love everything about JB and look forward to going to school every day and seeing their friends and teachers. JB is truly a one of a kind school enriching young lives everyday. close-quote

JB Parent

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