A year and a half ago while working with my oldest on spelling dictation, he started to get restless and completely incapable of focusing on the work at hand. In frustration, I found myself launching into a long-winded lecture. Blah, blah, blah… As my monologue progressed, I noticed that he was zoning out even more. It was time for a change of tactics. I paused and in my very best army sergeant voice ordered my son to stand up and give me 10 jumping jacks. A look of surprise washed over his face.
He giggled. I gave my best over-the-top army sergeant glare and barked the order again, fighting back giggles of my own. He responded with a puny flailing armed set of jumping jacks. I mustered composure, told this ‘private’ that his performance was unacceptable and ordered two laps around the kitchen island before returning to spelling duty. He giggled again and complied.
Since then, I’ve introduced a number of fun little breaks that get pulled out at random times to wake up lethargic brains and bodies! We call them ‘brain breaks’. What I didn’t realize is that I had read about something similar years earlier in Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head. This educational psychologist recommended short movement breaks as remedial exercises to help with bilateral integration in struggling students and eventually as break for the entire classroom. As I reread the book last year, I had an aha moment. What I was doing just to save our sanity was actually waking his brain up by activating the vestibular system, bilateral integration and giving the brain a fresh boost of oxygen!
So here is my little tip for the day! When you are doing some of the necessary seat work and you see that the lights are on, but nobody’s home, declare a ‘brain break’. A quick 2-5 minutes will work wonders to lighten the mood, get oxygen pumping and wake their brain up for diving back into the learning process! The key here is to make it light-hearted and fun!
Breaks like these work to wire the brain to learn, focus and perform better!
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A big thanks to MeinLilaPark for the beautiful graphic!
Day 10: How to Turn Passive Learning into Active Learning