The lead up to Christmas can be a mixture of excitement and stress for children - and sometimes it's hard to know how to deal with both.
In this episode of Behaviour Secrets, we discuss why certain children may not cope during this festive time and offer our top four tips to ensure Christmas is enjoyable for everyone.
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Show notes / transcription
Simon Currigan 0:00
Hi there. My name is Simon Currigan and welcome to school behaviour secrets. True fact about three months ago, my local garden centre started selling cards and decorations. So why am I telling you this? Because now 12 weeks later, that means it must almost be Christmas. So this week, we decided to share a quick fire strategy episode, where we look at how to get the best from your class in the run up to the Christmas holidays. Do you like these quick fire episodes? Maybe you hate them? Either way? Let me know on social media look for us on Facebook as beacon school support. And on Twitter. We're at Beacon support and tell me what you think. So why an episode on classroom behaviour at Christmas? It's the time of goodwill to all men, right? Well, although this season can be a lot of fun. The end of the autumn term can also be a time when we see an increase in challenging behaviour in school. And I think what we all want is for the kids to be able to enjoy this time without having behaviour deteriorating in class, which spoils all the fun activities we've got planned for them, meaning we the adults end up losing our tether. Never think goes a bit Scrooge McDuck. Let's just think about why that might happen for a minute. So quick story from my own life here. And it is relevant, I promise. It's all about babies and sleep. Because when my wife and I were new parents, having brought our daughter home from hospital for the first time sleep to count a new importance in our lives. And I'm sure if there are any listeners out there who have just become parents for the first time, you will know what I am talking about. You want to make sure that your newborn gets the right amount of sleep. So they can enjoy the day settle into a proper feeding routine, all of which will help them be happy, and so on. And also as a parent, you kind of accept that your own sleeping routine is going to go out of the window for a time, you're going to have to survive on minimal or at the very least a broken sleep and ensure the well being of you know the new member of your family all of which can be exhausting and leave you feeling like a zombie. So after a while, you then start to think about helping your child to settle in to a more regular routine for sleeping and waking. And this is where my wife read one of the best pieces of advice we were ever given as parents. She found it in an article in a magazine and the article said this developing a predictable routine around sleep and bedtimes is crucial because a routine helps the baby feel safe and secure. It knows what to expect and when to expect it. And this helps the infant learn to regulate their own sleep patterns. And it also said it doesn't really matter what the routine is. But do find a routine a routine that works for your child and works for you. Find one and stick to it the best you can religiously, day after day. Because there are going to be times when you can't stick to that routine. Maybe you're travelling maybe the baby keeps waking because it's teething. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But these will be short term interruptions to a longer term routine. And when that interruption is over, your baby has the solid foundation of the routine to return to you have disruption which makes the child feel less secure unsure of the world before returning to the safety and security of the routine, which leads to a happier baby, happier, baby, happier parents. So what has this got to do with Christmas? Well as we move towards Christmas, in schools, we tend to have all sorts of disruptions to the timetable our kids have you learned to expect things like Carol concerts and rehearsals and Christmas parties and making decorations and even events like talent contests and special Christmas Most dinners, and the temptation can be to get caught up in the excitement and go off timetable completely, to say, let's make the run up to the holiday, and never ending carousel of Christmas crafts and activities and fun time. All of which comes from a good place, especially after the last couple of years of COVID. When everything's been a bit more muted, you feel like this is a special time of year. And we want our kids to enjoy themselves and let themselves go. And I'm saying that as someone who's a non believer, by the way, meaning the obvious question is, why is that a problem? Well, like a baby asked, students tend to cope best in school and behave their best when they have the surety of routine. They feel safest and calm when they know what to expect, and when to expect it. And that sense of safety is threatened when we interrupt our regular routines with too much change. And this is especially true for many kids who have underlying needs. For instance, if you have a diagnosis of an autistic spectrum condition, you may find just one change causes you to experience high levels of stress or anxiety, which can make school feel frightening or overwhelming, let alone having multiple changes piled up in the three weeks leading up to the Christmas break. The same might be true if you have a background of trauma. One of the things that make school life bearable and capable with is knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Change makes you feel under threat it makes you put your guard up and feel more stressed. And for many children, even if they don't have an underlying condition, abandoning too much routine can result in kids who get overexcited, who let their emotions run away with them, and can't sustain that well over time without breaking down. And that's no fun for anyone. So am I saying we shouldn't rotor in some nice Christmas activities for our kids at this time of year? Right? So before you send me a Twitter bomb? Absolutely not. That's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying we should cancel Christmas. My aim is to increase the gross domestic happiness in our classrooms. It's a fun time if you're and we should enjoy it with our students. But as teachers, we do need to be mindful of how many of those activities we put on, and how we deliver them to make them successful. So here are my top tips to make this season enjoyable for all. Number one, don't throw away your routine, by all means introduce extra activities, but keep the backbone of your timetable or routine going. embed new activities into your existing structure as much as possible. If you normally do English and maths in the morning, stick with that and work your activities into some of your afternoon lessons. Then, like a baby who experiences an interruption to their normal sleep patterns. Your pupils will have the safety and security of most of their routine to make them feel safe and happy. There's something for your students to come back to and keep them centred. Number two, let your students know what changes are coming up and when to expect them. And then remind them about those changes, especially for younger children. This helps them prepare for these new and exciting and possibly scary new activities. Number three, don't just warn your class that changes are coming up. Pre tutor them about what to expect. This applies to students of all ages, some students may find new activities scary or threatening. Take the time to walk them through what will happen so they can see it in their mind's eye. And for some children with additional needs. Maybe backing this up with things like social stories, or scripts about what to do, what to say and what to expect. Number four, don't emphasise that normal classroom routines are over. If you swap out afternoon lessons for watching endless festive DVDs. This sends a clear message to your class learning is over. When we send messages that indicate our normal expectations have gone out of the window. Behaviour deteriorates and then you end up having to deal with difficult behaviour which spoils it for the kids and spoils it for the adults too. And those are my top tips for making the run up to Christmas in schools fun and enjoyable. If you like today's episode, don't forget to share it with three friends who would find it useful
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(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)