Brain breaks during lengthy lessons, studying or homework can help relieve that frustration. A brain break is just what it sounds like: a break from whatever kids are focusing on.
Short brain breaks during work time have been shown to have real benefits. They reduce stress, anxiety, and frustration. And they can help kids focus and be more productive.
Brain breaks can also help kids learn to self-regulate and be more aware of when they’re getting fed up or losing track of what they’re doing. That’s especially helpful for kids who struggle with executive function or lack attention and focus.
Being able to return to a task and get it done builds self-confidence and self-esteem, too. It shows kids they can work through challenges within their studies and learning journey. This can motivate them to keep trying and improve their problem-solving skills.
For some kids, a brain break needs to happen when they’re getting frustrated or distracted. For others, it may be a reward for staying on task for a certain amount of time. Or it may be a step on the way to accomplishing a larger goal. For example, taking a break after 10 minutes of silent reading may help kids finish 30 minutes of reading.
There are two ways to schedule breaks: by intervals of time or by ratio of behaviors (number of tasks completed).
Interval breaks: Younger kids often benefit from taking breaks at timed intervals. For instance, work for five minutes and then take a two-minute break.
You can use a timer to help kids understand how much time is passing. A timer also helps kids learn what they can do in a set amount of time.
Give specific instructions about how long the break will last, and explain the activity. Then start the timer. The timer provides a built-in warning that the break is winding down. You can also use verbal reminders like, “Wasn’t that fun? Now it’s time to get back to your work!”
Ratio breaks: Older kids tend to benefit from taking breaks that are tied to a certain number of behaviours. For instance, once kids complete their math work they might take a five- or ten-minute brain break before moving on to English work. Or after completing five out of ten math problems, they take a break.
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