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Fresh Start

The new school term and year provides an excellent opportunity to help the children review their past achievements and set targets for the forthcoming spring term. Help the class settle back into school life after a busy and exciting Christmas holiday by planning a number of activities to get the class up to speed before launching into some new topics

The new school term is also an excellent opportunity to reorganize the classroom by adjusting the seating plan so that the children get to work with other pupils in the class who can share their talents and skills in different curriculum areas. You can rejig the layout of the classroom to maximise the learning opportunities such as providing zones around the classroom for reading, writing, arithmetic and topic work. Make sure that the classroom walls are full of posters and vocabulary words to match the forthcoming topics so that Christmas can be forgotten and the class can surge ahead into spring.

Classroom Preparation
You need to make a special effort at the end of the autumn term to remove any existing displays and back the display boards ready for the new term. Part of the final week of the autumn term should see a clear out of any clutter or mess that has built up in the classroom in the lead up to Christmas. If possible try and visit the school towards the end of the Christmas holiday so that you can display some posters and vocabulary cards related to the forthcoming topics. If you spend a little time in the classroom before the term starts this can mean a more relaxed and settled start to the new school term. If your school is closed over the Christmas break then stay a little later on the last day of term to get the classroom organised.

Classroom Seating
The new school term provides an excellent opportunity to reorganise the seating arrangements in the classroom. It is important to make adjustments to the seating plan in the classroom throughout the school year so that the children get to work closely and co-operatively with different pupils who can share their talents and abilities in different subjects. For example, if you have some pupils who are struggling to master different aspects of the maths curriculum then why not sit them next to a more able mathematician. Similarly, if you have a child who finds it difficult to settle down to work in the classroom then try sandwiching them between a pair of pupils who are more studious so that they can lead by example. You can also try matching children of similar abilities so that they can challenge and extend each other without feeling that they will never succeed at a classroom task.

Writing Review
At the start of each term, you can get the children to produce a short piece of writing. This can either be a recount of something that happened during the past holiday or you can set them a general story title to which the children can add the next chapter at the start of each term. Allow the class to work independently on their writing so that you can make comparisons and assess improvements in spelling, punctuation and grammar as the children progress through the school year. Spend time time getting the children to discuss with a partner how their writing has developed and improved since the beginning of the previous term. Encourage the children to set targets to improve their writing in the forthcoming spring term.

Class Targets
The start of a new school term provides an good opportunity to help the class review their academic work, classroom behaviour and social skills from the previous term. Get the children to identify a weakness in how they work and behave in the classroom to set as a target for the spring term. For example, any child who is poor at spelling could select a target of learning five new words by week which they should then try and use in any written work to consolidate their understanding and knowledge. Use a display board in the classroom to record the children’s selected targets. You can stick stars next to any targets that are achieved throughout the school year.

Class Calendar
Work with the children to construct a calendar for the forthcoming term. This will help you introduce any new topics that the class will be covering during the spring term. Allow the children to share anything that they already know about each topic so that you can assess their understanding before beginning work. Set some reward dates in the calendar such an extra PE lesson or an afternoon in the local park. The class can work towards each date by collecting house or team points to win the the rewards recorded in the calendar.

Class Routine
It is important to settle the children back into the classroom routine as quickly as possible so that everyone gets used to working hard after the excesses of Christmas. Spend some time reviewing how the classroom was managed in the previous term to make some minor adjustments and improvements to classroom life such as selecting a different routine for when the children collect their playtime snacks to make it more orderly or choose a more efficient way for the children to visit the school library using a system of cards so that only a small amount of pupils are out of the classroom visiting the library at one time. Help the children make a fresh start by launching straight into a new topic with a special activity to fire the children’s imagination.

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