Brain Breaks at PEP Boost Attention
It can be difficult for any child to sit still for long periods of time at school. Think about how hard it is for you to sit in a marathon meeting without getting antsy and how grateful you are when it’s finally time for a break. Brain breaks at PEP are one way we ensure students are getting the breaks they need to be successful during their school day.
Why Brain Breaks?
The more we learn about the human brain, the more it is understood that frequent, regularly scheduled movement activities for students are not a luxury. They are a necessity to help students pay attention and learn. There is evidence that regularly scheduling short “brain breaks,” which include movement and/or exercise during the school day, provides many benefits to all students, including those on the autism spectrum.
The Benefits of Brain Breaks
Some of the benefits of brain breaks include:
- Stress reduction
- Increased productivity
- Boosts in brain function
- Social skills development
- Decreased behavioral problems
Brain breaks may be the most beneficial for students who are survivors of trauma and those who exhibit maladaptive behaviors.
Five Brain Break Ideas to Try in the Classroom
Here are five of our favorite brain breaks to try in the classroom.
- Simon Says – Who doesn’t love the creativity and energy of this good old-fashioned game.
- Tape Questions Under Chairs – Before the lesson, tape questions relating to the content under chairs and have students hunt for them throughout the lesson.
- Yoga Deck – Keep a deck of yoga cards in the classroom and let a student draw one for the class to try out together.
- Jumping Jacks – Set a time and see who can get the most.
- Hot Potato – Pass a ball up and down the rows of desks like a classic hot potato.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ideas out there for how to get kids moving, both in and outside the classroom. The ones below are a good place to start.
- Sensory Integration at School: 21 Sensory Break Activities for Kids
- gonoodle.com – A free online resource with a wealth of movement activities for educators and families with the aim of getting kids moving so they can be their best.
- The REAL Reason Children Fidget – and What We Can Do About It – A TED Talk from an occupational therapist about the importance of movement strategies.
For more information about the strategies we use in our Day Treatment Centers, visit our website. Contact Nicole Molnar, clinical coordinator, at 216-361-7760 ext. 110 or via email to see if a student in your district may be a good fit.
Please note, referrals to PEP’s Day Treatment Centers are made through school districts. Interested parents or caregivers should contact their school administrator.
Original article written by David Weiss, occupational therapist, PEP Prentiss.