A brain break is doing something for about one minute that does not include any thinking. For example, some people do jumping jacks, others say the alphabet song, and some even just close their eyes.
How many times have you sat your child down to practice his or her times’ tables? Or asked them to write out a few pages of text because they are so good at it? These kinds of activities can be difficult on children’s brains if they are done too much, especially after school where their brains need time to recharge.
If kids are made to think too much before bedtime it can make it harder for them to fall asleep. However, there are plenty of other things that kids can do instead of arithmetic problems or writing.
A brain break, on the other hand, is a great brain exercise. The mental and physical activity involved helps kids feel tired and relaxed at the end of it rather than frustrated or anxious.
As well as helping children to relax and recharge, brain breaks can help them focus if they are having trouble concentrating. It can also improve their performance in academic activities such as reading and writing by stimulating brain activity related to those tasks.
When brain cells rapidly fire action potentials (electric signals), they release neurotransmitters that change brain chemistry and enable certain parts of the brain to become more active.
How much time do you need for a brain break?
One minute is all it takes for a brain break – any longer and the brain starts to become more engaged or involved rather than relaxed. The brain needs time to rest, and brain breaks are good for the brain because they allow it this time, helping children relax and remain focused.
Brain breaks can be done as often as you like – many schools do them as part of their morning meeting, which is a great way for kids to start off their day with some physical activity and stimulation.
How long has the concept of brain breaks been around?
The idea of brain breaks is believed to have begun with brain researchers in the 1960s who observed that brain cells require rest periods. They realized that children were particularly susceptible to developing learning problems if they did not learn how to let their brain cells recover after periods of intense mental activity.
More recently, brain break exercises have been used for kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research suggests that these kinds of exercises are useful in reducing symptoms of these disorders in both students and adults, perhaps because they activate regions involved in attention while at the same time being incompatible with task performance.
How can you do a brain break?
Brain breaks come in many forms – some are better suited to certain activities while some can be integrated into various brain break exercises.
You might also like to experiment with mini brain workouts of your own design – anything that gets kids up and moving around is great for brain breaks, but it is best if they don’t think too hard about the activity. Better still, learn how you can help your child discover brain breaks by reading “It’s a Snap! Discovering Brain Breaks for Kids”.
We made it easy for you –
I have a pack of printable brain breaks ready for you to simply print off – these are all fall-themed and great for the littles. I have even made my teen friends do these – so it works for pretty much any age.
Because for brain break ideas I like to try to think of things that always feel good – and I simply love fall! My mom and I toured McHenry County Illinois a few years back when she was on a travel assignment. We had apple cider donuts, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches coming out of our ears but it was a ton of fun!
You can read a bit about it here on her travel site: 10 Fall Fun Activities in McHenry County Illinois
I tried to capture some of that fun with these cards – and hope you have fun with them too! I have 12 cards for you so you can switch things up a bit and have a little fall fun.