3 Ways to Prevent Regression for Students During Winter Break


When I think about the upcoming winter break, the words rest, relax, and regression come to mind. Regression, in terms of education, is the loss of learned skills or knowledge during lapses of instruction (such as during school breaks). The key is to prevent regression from happening by equipping students with resources and engaging tasks to do outside of school. Outlined below are three ways to help students maintain the invaluable knowledge and skills you’ve worked so hard on this year.

Provide Reading Lists
Winter break is a wonderful time to get cozy and catch up with a good book. Encourage your students to read for pleasure by sending them home with books from the school library or provide them with a few recommended titles to pick up at their local public library. 

What to recommend? Every year the International Library Association compiles three reading lists: Children’s Choices, Young Adults’ Choices, and Teachers’ Choices of must-read titles.  (Students can even apply to be on the selection committee for upcoming years!) Or have students embrace the cold and snow (from the comfort of the indoors) with this list of 15 favorite children’s books about winter.

Cultivate Kindness
For the third year in a row, this elementary school in Ireland replaced homework with acts of kindness for the entire month of December. Students were instructed to record their acts of kindness in a “kindness diary”. The teachers provided some ideas for students including (but not limited to) helping an elderly neighbor, showing kindness to someone feeling lonely, or anything else that might brighten someone’s day. The vice principal of the school shared, “Our message to the children is very simple: they can be the reason somebody smiles today, and they can definitely help make this world a better place for others and for themselves.”

Empower your students to make this world a better place by writing about their own acts of kindness in a journal over break. Have them reflect on how they felt and how the recipient of their kind deed probably felt. Have them think about how kindness is contagious and how one person can make a difference. Inspire students to get started by watching this beautiful portrayal of how kindness is set in motion and passed from one person to the next (and back again). 

Introduce Hands-on Learning Activities
Introduce students to Science Buddies filled with fun hands-on STEM learning experiences to do at home. (Check out this 2-minute video on how to make a popsicle stick chain reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTO3HDSjxOU&feature=youtu.be.) Students can also get a head start on researching and testing out ideas for their next science fair project.

Math skills, problem-solving, vocabulary, creativity, nutrition…there is so much one can learn by cooking! This link provides 30 easy recipes that the author promises “kids can make all by themselves.” (I’m going to give the frozen banana cereal pops and the microwave egg sandwiches a try with my own kids.)


While some regression is normal for students, the impact can be minimized by providing students with ways to keep their brains engaged over break. I hope you and your students come back to school in 2020 feeling rested, relaxed, and recharged!

Here are a few classes related to this topic:

Jill Rockwell
Jill has over 13 years of experience as a licensed teacher in the areas of Special Education, Reading Education, and Health Education. She embraces diversity and has worked with students in grades K-12 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California. Jill completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls while teaching full time. She fully understands the soaring demands of today’s teachers. Her courses are designed to maximize the time of all educators by providing engaging, meaningful, and applicable activities which can be used to enhance teaching practices. She focuses on research-based best practices and technology integration throughout her own instructional practices. Together with her husband and two young boys, Jill enjoys traveling, biking and the changing seasons of the great outdoors in Wisconsin. 

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