Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Why Brain Breaks?

According to Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist, "In order for children to learn, they need to be able to pay attention. In order to pay attention, we need to let them move"...and that is exactly what a Brain Break does. It lets them move.

Brain Breaks are mental breaks (movement breaks) designed to help students stay focused and better retain information. They boost blood flow and send oxygen to the brain. Movement promotes more brain activity which leads to academic achievement and increased focus. Brain Breaks are great nourishment for the brain. The more Brain Breaks we can add to our day, the more academic gain students will have.

If you walk through Goodrich School on any given day, you will see Brain Breaks going on in all of the classrooms. Teachers monitor student energy as the day progresses and know when a break is needed. Brain Breaks are quick and easy, like playing a GoNoodle video to dance to (, or finding a quick game to play. Sometimes even a quick run around the Goodrich Field gets the students going and blood flowing to the brain.  

Even 6th graders love Brain Breaks! One of our favorites is Freeze Dance (see video below). During Freeze Dance the students dance and when the music stops, they have to also. If they move, they are out. We have had many Freeze Dance contests in class this year. This is great to play especially before a class they may be struggling in or a class I know will take a lot of concentration that particular day.

Many days we will begin with a Pool Party. If you know 6th graders, the place they want to be at 8:30 in the morning is in their own bed, at home. What better way to wake them up than with a Pool Party. I get our swimmers up to lead the class through different swimming strokes. Notice in the video how quiet they are at the beginning. By the time they are finished, they are awake and ready to start their day. 

Today, one of our Brain Breaks was playing a Kagan version of Alaskan Baseball (Kickball). It is just a quick game to get them outside and the blood flowing. In this version one team lines up next to the kicker. When the kicker kicks the ball, he starts running laps around his teammates line. In the meantime, everyone on the other team must touch the ball. When everyone touches the ball, the kicker stops running. Teams go back and forth so each person gets a chance to kick the ball. In the end all of the runs are added up and the team with the most runs is the winner. Today's game ended in a tie...42 - 42! See the video of some of the game below.

Are Brain Breaks important? You bet! I have seen a tremendous increase of focus when students have these breaks. It is something everyone (kids and adults) should consider doing when they find themselves losing focus while working on anything that takes a lot of concentration or just feeling tired.  

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