AHHHHHHHH I hear you cry! T’is NOT the season to be jolly. T’is the season to rip your hair out. I’ll whisper it so as not to jinx us……. December! Shhhhhhhhh!
December and schools are not best friends. December and children with additional needs are even more not best friends! Nativities practiced for five million hours a week, assessments, Father Christmas excitement, loss of routine, etc, etc, etc. Pick one, or more likely pick them all, our vulnerable children with additional needs find this time very difficult to cope with. All children find this time difficult to cope with!
So what do we do! Should we shut down the whole education system for 6 week? Emigrate to a hot country in the southern hemisphere? Take baths in vats of wine( I like this option)? However attractive the above options seem, why don’t you try the following tips first!
PLAN PLAN PLAN!! Christmas isn’t a new invention that was introduced last year! We know its going to happen, so plan for it! What further strategies may be needed to support during this period? Does the child that cannot sit down for carpet time for 5 minutes be reasonably expected to practice being a shepherd for 60 hours of practice without moving? What support may you build into this? Will they need a brain break?
ROUTINE. Yes this is a difficult one. Nigh on impossible in some cases, but we know that some of our children and young people just cannot cope without it, so we need to face a harsh reality. They still need it!
BE CONSISTENT. Spinning a thousand plates, is a difficult task but hey! You’re a teacher or a TA, which is code for superhero (Think Captain America with a gluestick and you’re on the right path). The strategies you used before should still be used now. You may just need to take it up a notch. Don’t let things slip. A single day of inconsistency on earth equals a plutonium day of challenge from a child (believe me, a Plutonium day is a looong one!) It’s just not worth the hassle.
TOLERANCE: This takes some effort but is worth the consideration. Your tolerance will need to go up along with the challenge you will see. Remember, this is not about you and your feelings, and its nothing personal, its just overwhelming for small people and they need your help! Take a deep breath, ask for a break, go for a walk. Needing space and your own time out isn’t a weakness. It’s a strength. Work as a team, and recognise when your colleague needs a moment.
Last but certainly not least, try and have FUN. Working with children is the most challenging job in the world, but its also the most rewarding one. I cannot tell you how many times I have cried (it was peeling onions, honest!) because a kid made the effort to write me a Christmas card with my name spelt correctly in it, and this is no mean feat!
Have a peaceful break