Last week we talked about mid-lesson breaks and the benefits they have for both students and teachers. Aside from allowing students to process memories, they’re a great way to reduce disruptive behavior. Moreover, they encourage overall health.
But, while the benefits of these mid-lesson breaks are clear, what activities can you implement during these short periods of time? Furthermore, which breaks are best for which age groups? To help answer these questions we’ve created this article whereby we will tell you about the specific types of mid-lesson breaks and how to implement them as effectively as possible.
The Different Types of Breaks and When to Implement Them
In a recent article by MindShift, a teacher in Finland talks about his experience incorporating brain breaks into the classroom and how it helped him reconnect and better engage his students. But, while he originally felt that he’d made a groundbreaking discovery, he suddenly realized that Finnish people knew long before him that giving children frequent breaks throughout the day kept them fresh.
However, while there is no doubt that these breaks offer students multiple benefits, it’s important to know which type of break to implement when. It’s also important to design mid-lesson breaks based on the age group you’re teaching. Moreover, you have to plan these brain breaks for the right time in order for students to get the most out of them. Here’s an outline of the different types of breaks and when to implement them:
Breathing and Stretching
According to studies, 45% of teens say that they’re stressed all the time. With this in mind, it makes complete sense to incorporate more relaxing breaks into your lessons. These could come in the form of breathing and stretching activities. A great activity that fits within this category is meditation. This is because meditation is proven to help combat depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
Moreover, because meditation helps refocus the mind and calm our thoughts, it is a great activity for classrooms with younger children. Alternatively, if you feel your students won’t be able to sit still for that time, encourage them to stop and stretch whenever you notice them getting restless. This type of routine should include stretches for the neck, back, chest, and hips as students are often sat for long periods of time. Encourage deep breathing during this break.
Many see yoga as an adult activity. However, studies show that yoga can help improve both the physical and mental health of school-age children. The only way you can engage your students during a lesson is to keep them focused. Once they lose focus, you’re more likely to experience disruptive behavior.
By incorporating balancing yoga poses during your mid-lesson break, you’re asking your students to focus, something that they can take into their learning process. Make sure to encourage them to use both their dominant and non-dominant limbs. Also, remind them to breathe deeply into their diaphragm as this will help them to relax.
Overall, yoga poses work best with younger children. This is because teenage students are more self-conscious and, therefore, more reluctant to try new activities.
Brain teasers are a great way to get hyperactive kids back on topic. If you start noticing a disruption in the classroom, taking a five-minute break and introducing brain teasers into your lesson could be exactly what you need to get your students back in the zone. Additionally, these brain teasers help kids in their development. For example, brain teasers can improve their:
These types of mid-lesson breaks should happen whenever you notice your students drifting from the lesson topic. That said, make sure to not overdo them as they may see it as a way to get out of a lesson altogether. Also, these types of breaks benefit all age groups. They shouldn’t last more than five minutes at a time and shouldn’t take place more than once or twice a day.
It’s not unusual for children to become restless during a lesson. After all, for most young children, thirty minutes can seem like a lifetime. Energizing activities can give more active children that energy release they need to refocus on the lesson. These energizing activities should take no more than five minutes to complete. They should be fun and engaging without overtiring your students.
Younger students engage better with these types of exercises. However, you can incorporate these types of breaks in classrooms with older students as well. The key is to implement them slowly once you feel students have had the chance to build positive peer relationships. In classrooms with slightly older students, go for activities that everyone can join in and that won’t make anyone feel self-conscious. For example, these activities could include an energizing breathing activity, singing, or simply throwing a small ball to one another in a circle.
With younger students, the skies are usually the limits. You can create a short routine with some of the following exercises:
You could even spend a short amount of time collaborating to create a routine that everyone enjoys. Every time you feel the class needs an energizing break, a different student can lead the routine. This will encourage self-confidence and leadership.
Do Mid-Lesson Breaks Work for All Age Groups and Classrooms?
The short answer is yes. Brain breaks are key in helping students develop the social-emotional skills they need to cope with both the academic and social context of their life in school and out of it. Moreover, these mid-lesson breaks often stimulate brain cells in a way that can further promote learning. They also allow students to rid themselves of excess energy, thus giving them the chance to focus on their lessons.
But, a break that works with one class may not work with another. With this in mind, it’s essential that you read your audience so that you can implement the right strategy to make your breaks work in your classroom. By working with a team of professionals with experience in classroom improvisation, you can learn the skills you need to incorporate the right breaks in your lesson in order to keep your students engaged.