Movement breaks, or brain breaks, are important for everyone - that includes kids and adults.
A brain break can be a movement break, or engaging in a fun mental activity. Today, we’re just going to focus on movement breaks.
A movement break helps to prevent lack of focus, and frustration when learning, studying or working. And they are actually shown to improve learning by allowing the brain to form memories, and prepare for more learning.
Everyone needs breaks between learning and work activities - that includes adults!
How movement breaks benefit kids (and adults)
Movement breaks allow the brain time to form memories from the content learnt - this is where the sensory receptors (hearing, sight, touch, reading, imagining, and experiencing) send information to the memory storage regions of the brain. Otherwise, the brain can be negatively affected by overload and / or stress, and this will lead to a reduction in the benefits of learning.
A movement break helps to regulate neurotransmitters (which are often called the body’s chemical messengers) that aid learning, such as dopamine. This improves mood and focus, and allows areas of the brain to rest and replenish the depleted neurotransmitters.
Moving aids circulation, therefore diverting more oxygen to the brain for learning. Kids actually absorb more learning after a bout of exercise!
The other obvious benefit is an increase in active time per day, therefore decreasing health risks from sedentary lifestyle and creating fitter happier healthier bodies.
How often should kids take a movement break?
That depends on the child’s age, and the child themselves. As you have probably seen, different kids have different levels of focus, and likely focus better on subjects where they are particularly engaged.
Younger kids in early to mid primary school can focus for 10-15 minutes at a time. And from mid primary school right through high school, students will benefit from a break after 20 - 40 minutes of focus.
This is relevant to the classroom, remote learning and homework or studying. Although, at home you can tailor the movement break to suit the individual, whereas at school kids will have a break as a group.
However, if you find that your child requires additional movement breaks - this is important to negotiate, including all parties. Schools will understand the benefits where a child genuinely requires additional movement breaks.
A movement break doesn’t need to be long - usually 3 - 5 minutes of activity is enough. So, to maximise the benefit from a break, movement activities should be at hand before commencing. There’s nothing worse than spending half the break opening a package or accessing a piece of equipment!
And it’s important to make sure it’s actually a break! Switching to chores, or other necessities during a movement break doesn’t offer the same benefits. Movement breaks are an opportunity for fun!
10 Movement Break Ideas:
- Do some gentle stretching - try these Kids PT - Stretching Cards for ideas
- Roll some Yoga Dice and practice a few poses
- Dance it out to a favourite song or two!
- Jump on a trampoline
- Bounce on a Slackers Sky Board
- Practise hopping on either foot and / or skipping
- Test your balance and coordination with Squish Steppers
- Bounce a ball, either on the ground or against a wall
- Choose an energising activity from the Brain Breaks Directory
- Chase some Touchable Bubbles