The New Year

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Acclimating students for the return to school

The holiday season can be a whirlwind of activity that culminates in lavish celebrations and, for many children, an extended vacation from school. But when the excitement of the holiday has ended, children must return to the classroom, an adjustment that is not always so easy.

An entire month of meals on the go and jaunts to the shopping mall, plus parties and various gatherings, can make it difficult for children to readjust to the structured environment of school. Even a short time away from lessons may have students backsliding on information they once knew. Parents and teachers may have to work together to help youngsters get back on track, and the following are few ways to do just that.

* Enforce typical bedtimes. As the season wears on, parents should gradually return their households to their normal routines. Youngsters' bedtimes, which are not often adhered to during the holiday season,  should once again be enforced in the days leading up to their returns to school. A gradual transition back to an earlier bed time will have kids accustomed to going to bed and rising early once more.

* Cut down on play time. On the heels of the holiday season, children love to test out all of their new toys and games. Some may wake up in the morning and spend the entire day trying to beat a video game or assembling a building-block creation. But as the end of the season draws near, parents should try to get back to a normal school day schedule, limiting the number of hours kids spend playing with toys. Consider giving kids some brain-boosting puzzles or encourage them to read books.

* Encourage kids to work on winter school projects. Teachers recognize the importance of a winter break for students, but some still assign work over the holiday break. When the holiday season starts to wind down, encourage youngsters to start working on their assignments, devoting some time each day to their schoolwork. This can help keep kids' minds sharp while ensuring that their work gets done.

* Schedule some play time with friends. Children may be more anxious to return to school if they realize they'll once again be able to see their school pals. Arrange a fun gathering of friends before kids return to school. Moms and dads can mingle while the children relax and have fun.

Once the holiday season has come and gone, children may be not look forward to returning to school. But parents can employ a few strategies to make the transition back to the classroom go more smoothly.