Now that most children are back at school and parents are adjusting to the new schedules and new routines are being established; the kinks will continue to be worked out. There may still be days where frustration prevails and the tears are flowing after a long day at school and homework still needs to be accomplished. You may need to incorporate more brain breaks into your child’s day.
According to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, “Brain breaks are planned learning activity shifts that mobilize different networks of the brain. These shifts allow those regions that are blocked by stress or high-intensity work to revitalize. Brain breaks, by switching activity to different brain networks, allow the resting pathways to restore their calm focus and foster optimal mood, attention, and memory.”
The key to brain breaks is to take them prior to stress, frustration, distraction, or boredom setting in. The frequency and amount of time varies among age groups. Typically for elementary school children, if they have diligently concentrated for 10-15 minutes on a subject, they should have a 3-5 minute break. The time increases for middle and high school students to 20-30 minutes of concentrated study before a break.
Brain breaks can be different for all children. They are definitely not one size fits all. Some children may need to get up and move, for example, have a dance party, play basketball, or do some jumping jacks. Physical activity increases the blood flow to the brain, which helps to maintain focus by reducing stress and anxiety.
However, brain breaks do not always have to be active. If your child gets overstimulated, a relaxing brain break activity would be more suitable. This may include reading, drawing, or meditating.
Brain breaks can help kids learn to self-regulate and self-monitor when they begin to lose focus and will help to reduce anxiety. They are a simple way to fight frustration and boredom while improving focus. The goal is to help their brains shift focus so they can come back to their schoolwork refocused, reenergized, and prepared to learn.