Whether you take off a couple weeks or a whole month, getting back into the school routine after winter break can be a little bumpy. Taking time off is so important for students’ mental and emotional well-being, but the transition back to academic life can be jarring– especially in more difficult subjects like reading. So how does a parent or teacher set a child up for a successful return to the books? Here are some ideas to help your student(s) bounce back to reading after winter break.

Review the Routine & Celebrate Progress

In the first lesson after Winter Break, take time to review your reading instruction routine with your student. Students with reading difficulties thrive on the repetition and review built into structured literacy. Reorienting them to this structure will help them bounce back into “school mode.”

This is not only a great time to go over goals and expectations during reading instruction, but is also a time to look back and celebrate how far your student has come since the beginning of the school year. 

Your celebration of progress can become an informal review of the sounds and skills your student learned before break. Older students can also set some of their own reading goals for the rest of the school year. You can help them brainstorm and write down their goals to help them stay motivated the rest of the year. 

Having an active role in bouncing back to reading after winter break helps students feel like they are valued collaborators in their own education. This increases engagement much more than simply being told they have to get back to school.

Take Time to Talk-and Write-About Break


Students usually have a lot to say about what happened over their winter break. So harness that energy and guide a conversation with your student about it. Even if you’re homeschooling and had your child with you the whole break, your student’s answers may surprise you. Here are some less-common questions to get you started.

What was…

  1. Something really tasty you tried over break?
  2. A great surprise you had during your break?
  3. Something really fun you did with your family?
  4. A holiday tradition you loved?
  5. One of the nicest gifts you gave to someone?

This transition activity can stay a short, simple discussion, or you can turn it into a writing activity. Pre-writers can draw their answer to a question and beginning writers can write a few words they know. You can help more seasoned writers summarize and condense their spoken answers.

Make Review into a Game


Reviewing concepts and skills after a break helps reactivate knowledge students haven’t used in a while. It also helps teachers gauge how well a child has held onto skills. But reviewing doesn’t have to feel like a formal test. There are so many ways to turn review into a game, and making review multisensory helps students access their knowledge more easily.

Letter and Sound Walks

Write out the letters and sounds your student has learned on individual pieces of paper and create a path with them. Students walk or jump along the path to review the sounds. You can even put a surprise at the end of the path!

You can also take a “sound walk” outside. Ask your student to find things that begin with a certain letter or sound. Try pointing out an object and ask about the sounds in the word. For example: “I see a house! What sound do you hear at the beginning of ‘house’? What sound is at the end of ‘house’? Do you hear the /ow/ sound in ‘house’?”

Board Games

You can take any basic board game template, print it out, and fill in the squares with words for review. This is great for sight words, but also for reviewing sounds that you learned before break. A quick, easy, and effective option is to reuse the board games at the back of the PRIDE Reading Program workbooks.

Put the “Bounce” in Bounce Back

There are so many phonological awareness skills you can review just by bouncing a ball. Start by picking a word, then thinking of rhyming words as you bounce the ball back and forth. Your student can also break up the syllables in a word by bouncing the ball once for every syllable, or break up the sounds in each word by bouncing the ball for each sound.

Another great review game is the Beach Ball Toss. Check out the video below for how to make a game that works just as well for a group of students as it does for one-on-one instruction.

Once you’ve finished reading, head over to our YouTube page for more inspiration on quick and easy games using multisensory tools like Play Doh, building blocks, and popsicle sticks.

Remember You’re Bouncing Back Too

As you focus on helping your students bounce back to reading after winter break, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you are experiencing the exact same transition. This is a wild school year, and you may not feel ready to dive back in. Take a step back and extend the same grace to yourself as you would to your students.

These fun and simple ideas are as much for you as your students. Making time for review, games, and settling back in not only help your student have a smooth transition back to reading instruction, but take some pressure off of you as an educator. 

Using a Structured Literacy curriculum like PRIDE Reading Program helps make transitioning for teachers and students alike quick, easy, and less stressful. It gives you not only a great sequence of instruction, but provides so many ideas and resources to make learning active, fun, and meaningful. 

Having a teacher or parent who is relaxed, enjoying themselves, and in the present moment is one of the most important factors in helping a student thrive. Contact PRIDE today if you’re interested in learning more about a program that works great for both teachers and students year round. 

Thanks so much for reading this post today. You may also enjoy these previous posts:

How to Teach Spelling Words

How I Help b/d Letter Reversals

Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program. The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

PRIDE Reading Program


PRIDE Reading Program is a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. The PRIDE curriculum uses research-based best practices to work for students of all ages and various learning modalities, and works for students with numerous learning differences and employs differentiated teaching practices. To learn more, email us at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com
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