It’s still winter in the northeast and while the sun has been peeking out more often, it is still cold outside and there is a good amount of snow that remains on the ground. In addition, COVID-19 continues to be an issue that requires testing and quarantining. I often begin my classes by asking how everyone is doing and ask what fun things they did over the weekend. Last week, the students seemed pretty grim and did not have much of anything new to share. One student went so far as to say that every day feels like it’s the same and not much seems to be changing, which is discouraging. One idea to beat the wintertime and very-little-changes blues is to add some fun into the week!
I tried this last week over the President’s Day holiday, which is a February break for many of the schools and districts in the Greater New York City area. My kids were home from school, but I was teaching and working, which definitely made life challenging and required me to plan out when I could add some fun, but small adventures into the week so that my kids had some fun times during their break. The outings I planned were not big events and did not require tons of time, so they were manageable during my work week. For example – one afternoon, I took the kids to an art museum with an outdoor sculpture exhibit. There was lots of space for them to run around outside and the sculptures were an added benefit that we could discuss during running breaks. Everyone had a blast! It was a sunny afternoon, we saw something new, and took a break from the usual afternoon routine. I was amazed how much everyone’s mood improved after such a small change that did not take too much effort.
Finding time for fun seems to be a theme in schools and classrooms at the moment as well. This week, I met with a group of elementary teachers who shared that the school routine is feeling a bit stale for themselves and for the students. In order to shake things up a bit, many of the teachers decided to bring more fun moments into the classroom space and make school a little less serious. They explained the different ways that they are planning in at least one fun activity or lesson that they know their students will enjoy and will make them happy. The teachers also shared how adding some fun into their teaching has made them happier and more excited about their instruction. Deviating from the regular routine has had another unexpected benefit – the students are talking more! They are having more conversations with their peers as well as with the teachers. One teacher shared that she knows more about what her students are doing outside of school thanks to her added fun in the classroom!
Incorporating fun moments into life has huge payoffs – for adults and for kids, but it does take some extra planning. So, here’s to taking the time to plan in more moments for fun in the new month ahead!
Photo: One of the sculptures from our mid-week art museum adventure!