Switching Gears for the Holidays

Switching Gears for the Holidays

December is here! The children are high energy and excited. Families are busy. School schedules are tight. This is the time that I give in to the pull and switch gears so that we can all get through health and well. Here are a few of the steps I take to help my dream for peace become a reality.

Choose a Long-Term Assignment for Homework

Homework during November and December is always the students Science Fair Project. December is spent writing a detailed 3-5 page research paper. December is spent conducting the actual experiments, creating the trifold, and practicing their presentations which will happen in class upon return from Winter Break.  Any other homework would be routine assignments like math facts or computer-based skill practice. This approach allows families to be flexible. Students can work on the assignments when it works well for them.

Get Students Involved in the Decision Making

I invite the students in creating and planning our class events and assignments. This guarantees student buy in because they helped choose. This year, students chose to have one culminating class party that will include a Secret Santa Exchange, Christmas Pajamas, Class Bizarre, and Caroling to our Preschool classes.  Students then create the schedule for our class and post it on our Community Board. They know to refer to the board or a peer (not me) as needed.

Plan Group Activities with Opportunities for Individual Work

My students need for social conversation are escalated during the month of December. Instead of restraining it (which has proven to be impossible), I have learned to use it as strength in the class. We identify several meaningful academic projects that students can do in groups. This directs their need for social interactions to positive class contributions. They research, construct and create. They teach their peers (and me). They continue to learn in a way that honors their current needs.

Send Parents a Schedule of Classroom Happenings

At the start of December, I send parents a detailed class letter that includes all of the upcoming events that will happen in our class and on campus. This includes school celebrations, field trips, in class celebrations and activities, upcoming benchmark assessments, and so on.  I review this communication with my students and let them know their parents have an electronic version available to refer to at home. I also send parents a blank calendar so they can create a family schedule.

Keep Work at Work

Between Thanksgiving and December, I keep work at work as much as possible. School ends with the bell and the time after that belongs to me and my family. This allows me to enjoy the holiday season as well, and prevents internal frustrations.  Another tip…I use home delivery and store pickup as much as possible. Why wait in lines if I do not have to?


I hope you found at least one or two things that will help you, your students, and your families have a low-stress and joyful holiday season!




Yolanda Wheelington

Yolanda Wheelington

Phoenix, Arizona

Yolanda has taught for the past 7 years in the Phoenix Elementary School District. Her passion for developing and supporting the human potential is evident in the cross-curricular work done her classroom. She is a member of the Association Montessori International and is a RODEL Scholar. Yolanda earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Education (Special Education) from Arizona State University, and a diploma in Lower Elementary Education for ages 6-12 from the Montessori Institute of North Texas.

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