The expectations placed on children of all ages are getting harder and harder to achieve. It is great to challenge children to problem solve and learn, but sometimes the frustration of non-developmentally appropriate activities far exceeds the threshold of a child’s skills. It is of the utmost importance, now more than ever, that children get motor breaks during the school day to balance out all the in-seat work that they do.
Physical education class is sometimes the only movement that children get in a day. When they are home, they are in front of some type of screen: phone, tablet, television, computer. They never go outside before or after school or on weekends. When it’s a beautiful day and I ask my class who went outside to play, less than half will raise their hands. It is very sad. The excess energy that they build up during the day is never given an outlet so now teachers need to build that outlet into their day.
There are many studies and resources available to assist teachers with incorporating motor breaks into their day. These breaks are especially important for schools that have gotten rid of recess or don’t have an outdoor space in which to play. Middle school and high school teachers should also add some of these activities so that their students will be more focused.
These are just a few of the hundreds of articles and activities that teachers can read and use…for free. The research is undeniably in support of brain and movement breaks. It helps students to focus, expend energy, get their brains working and be more available for learning. The minutes you spend giving your class these breaks will be paid back in the time that they stay on task.
Our brains are muscles that need to be exercised. When we learn something new, we are exercising our brains. Just like our other muscles need different types of exercises in the gym, our brains need different types of exercises. Learning is one type of exercise. Doing these movement breaks is another way to exercise the brain. It makes our brains more balanced.
Although many of these activities are presented for elementary grades, they can easily be modified for middle and high schoolers. Since older students have more skills and more experience, activities can be added that are more difficult. You can even challenge them to come up with motor breaks to be used by the whole class. The options are endless.
You may think that getting students to move, dance, etc will get them more excited and out of control. The truth is that they may get excited at the beginning, but once they get involved in it, it really holds their attention and they do become focused. If you haven’t tried this in your classroom, what are you waiting for? You will be pleasantly surprised.