Surviving Re-entry

This post originally appeared in Dr. Rachel A. Larimore’s weekly Samara newsletter on January 9, 2024. If you’re interested in receiving these emails, scroll to the bottom of this page to subscribe.

It feels a bit like starting all over doesn’t it?

After a break, it’s hard for us to get back into the normal routine. It’s no different for young children. 

So how do we make re-entry into the school routine easier? Here are some thoughts I have …

Lean into outdoor free play

We’re nature-based educators. We know the power of outdoor play to help calm nervous systems, so take advantage of that! We also know that play is the best way for young children to make sense of their experiences in the world. Lean into that. Maybe this is a chance to shorten up the teacher-led portions of the day and spend even more time in outdoor free play that you have before. 

Go back to the basics

“Before break we were able to…” Yup, and soon you’ll be able to get back to that, but right now focus on the basics. 

  • Clear routine: Make sure you have a clear routine that is clearly communicated to children–so they know what to expect. Did you put away your visual schedule? Bring it back out! (It’s honestly helpful to have it available year-round). Ask children if they can remember what is next and so forth.

  • Safe spot: Take some time to remind children of the safe spot in the classroom where they can go to calm their body. It’s best to do this when things are calm, before they need the safe spot. This could be individually, in a small group, or as a large group.

  • Problem-solving: Similar to reminding about the safe spot, remind children of the problem-solving steps. 


All of the actions above will require patience. Be conscious of regulating your own emotions. Take a deep breath and allow more space between the stimulus and response. Then, lean into empathy and patience as children and your co-workers may also be feeling a little off kilter–if not completely dysregulated.

Ultimately I suggest the KISS method for re-entry after a holiday break–Keep It Super Simple. (I realize there’s another more popular version of this phrase, but I prefer this one.)

I’m wishing you well. You’ve got this! 💪🏻

Keep changing lives,


Rachel A. Larimore, Ph.D., Chief Visionary of Samara Learning


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