If you have ever been told to get up and stretch your legs while working, just to get the blood flowing again, you have heard about brain breaks.
Our brains are only naturally meant to focus on one thing for 30 min.to an hour at a time, depending on the person. Some kids can only handle about 20 min. of intense focus. Sure when watching a movie, reading a good book, or playing a video game you may feel like you are having no trouble intensely focusing, but the truth is your level of concentration and ability to remember what is going on are depleting the longer you are at a task. You may notice you miss important things in the book or movie, or that you start having a lot more trouble beating a particular level in the game.
Well the same thing applies (probably more so) to learning. When students are in class or working on homework, their level of focus needs to be kept consistently high. The easiest way to do this is by allowing them brain breaks.
Here’s how it works.
- Student works on a task for anywhere from 20-45 min. This depends on the age and attention span of the student (or you) It is best to set a timer so that they remember to stop. You can use this at work, or while playing video games too!
- When the timer goes off they can wrap up the sentence, or problem they are on, then take a 1-3 min. brain break. Again using a timer for this is helpful so that they don’t take too long of a break.
- Brain Breaks should involve some kind of movement. Most of the time when we are working or studying we are doing a limited amount of movement. This is not how the human body was originally created to function. Our bodies need kinesthetic stimulation to keep at their highest level.
- Repeat steps 1-3 as needed for the whole day, homework time, or while you are at work.
Pointer for adults, if you try this yourself see if you are more productive throughout your day, by using a task timer like Toggle.
Suggestions for choosing activities during brain breaks:
For many kids just choosing what to do for their brain break may be difficult, and you may not have the time to watch over them the entire time. An easy way around this is to create a brain break wheel or dice, or another style of decision making tool.
- You can do this by using a “decision making app” such as Decision Wheel (for Windows), or Roundom (for Apple)
- You can create your own wheel out of a circle cut out of paper, a pencil, and a paperclip (to use as the spinner).
- There is also a great free dice cut out at “I Heart Naptime” that has several activities listed out, along with a dice to roll the amount of time to spend on each one. Kids can roll the activity dice and the timer dice to decide what to do during their break. You do have to cut out and put the dice together, but this is pretty easy. You could always create your own for this as well by using hers as a template.
Brain Break Ideas
Here are some great brain break ideas. For more check out our brain breaks board on Pinterest or our Facebook Page. We put lots of ideas up in January during our Brain Break theme. (these are in no particular order)
- Dancing-There are a ton of brain break dance videos on youtube or they can just dance around the house.
- Yoga or other stretching-Here is a link to some great kid friendly yoga poses. You can also look up kid friendly yoga and stretching exercises on youtube.
- Quick short exercises such as: jumping jacks, cat kicks, toe touches, frog hops, bunny hops, push ups, squats, standing on tip toes, lunges, jogging in place, marching in place, high knees, crunches, etc. You can look up short exercises for kids on Google or youtube for more ideas.
- Going outside (this may need 4-5 min.) and doing one of the following:
- running around the house as many times as they can in 3 min.
- doing sprints up and down the driveway or sidewalk
- shooting as many baskets as they can in 3 min. (requires basketball goal, an empty bucket, or an empty trashcan, and a ball)
- Playing on a playground set if you have one for 3 min.
- Figure eights or hopscotch (for figure eights you would create obstacles for them to run around. You would need sidewalk chalk for hopscotch)
- Jump rope for 3 min.
These are just a few general ideas to get you started. There are so many wonderful break ideas out there. Do you have any great brain break ideas? Share them in the comments below.
Don’t have any of your own? Brainstorm some ideas with your kids and come back and share your favorites with us!!!!
Thanks for reading 🙂