An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Counselors' advice for helping students get the most out of breaks
Counselors' advice for helping students get the most out of breaks

by Meredith Sjoberg, Upper School counselor and counseling center coordinator

Students have had precious little time off since school started, but with Thanksgiving and winter breaks on the horizon, they will soon get a lot more. As counselors who specialize in the developmental, emotional, and psychological needs of students, we are often asked: What is the best way for my students to spend their break? Should they sleep a ton, lie around and do nothing, or should they maximize the free time to get ahead on work and do a lot of service? 

No surprise, our recommendation is somewhere in the middle. And our recommendation changes based on each individual student. Certainly, the indulgence of sleeping in is fun, though we know it's important not to disrupt sleep patterns too much, as it can make the return to a rigid schedule difficult. Getting good-quality downtime (reading, watching movies, spending time with friends and family) is also important. Many students, though, will benefit to having some structure to their days. 

We encourage parents and guardians to talk with their students in advance about family plans for breaks so that students can schedule in personal projects and events they would like to do (even if that "project" is to finish a season of a favorite show!). If you notice your student spending a lot of time on one activity over the break, encourage them to take part in a wide range of activities. You might encourage your student to take a walk outside, read an interesting book, get in touch with an old friend, or explore a new part of the city. 

Students need to have the opportunity to use the break in a way that feels restorative and fun, but it can also be a chance to try out new ways to destress and enjoy time away from their studies. We all want students to return to school recharged and ready to engage in their lives here at Lakeside.

We hope that you and your family have some wonderful time off!

Meredith Sjoberg is Upper School counselor and counseling center coordinator. Reach her at 206-440-2749. Learn more about Lakeside's student and family support program – including learning specialists, tutors, and mental-health counselors. Services are free and available to all students and families.