I always look forward to coming back from winter break. It’s not that I don’t enjoy vacation (because I do). I particularly enjoy watching how much each child grows over those two weeks. Call me crazy, but almost every child looks significantly taller in January than they did in December. Where DOES the time go?
While the children change physically, they also grow cognitively. In these past few days, teachers have excitedly reflected to me about how impressed they are by the high level of learning retention from before the break (“I didn’t need to review anything, I was able to pick up as if there was no break”). I also heard from some that many of the skills that were being taught earlier in the year seemed to gel and come more easily to students after the break. In my regular visits to classrooms I am always impressed by the levels of engagement and excitement that I see in our students. After vacation, that level of engagement reaches stratospheric levels.
Every year I ask myself, could students really change that much in two weeks, or does our perception of them change given the time to reset? I like to think that this development actually IS because of the break. Giving students’ brains time to recharge, allows them to synthesize material and absorb it even deeper than when they are on a treadmill of constant learning. It goes in line with a philosophy of no or minimal homework and giving kids time to just be kids. Many studies studies corroborate the less is more approach. Even the Torah emphasizes the necessity of taking a break.. In Genesis we learn that after six days of creation, God took a day to rest, “shavat vayinafash”. Shavat means to stop and vayinafash can be translated as to “re-soul” oneself. Our actual ability to continue to be ourselves relies on our ability to stop and give ourselves time to become ourselves again. We all need time to recharge on a daily and periodic basis so that we can garner the resources to continue to grow and develop.
Welcome back to all, and I wish us all a semester of rest and much growth – physical, cognitive, social and emotional! Shabbat Shalom -Zvi