Brain Breaks are a way for learners of all ages and stages to recharge and prime for optimal learning. Embrace your creativity and enjoy the moment for the sky is the limit when it comes to these invigorating ‘time-outs’ for your homeschooler’s brain.
The 2 Types of Brain Breaks
There are two types of breaks you can provide for your homeschooled student. The first type is a traditional energetic brain break. The second type is a calming attention focuser.
Traditional brain breaks give children time to recharge and release pent up energy. Brain breaks leave children prepared and ready to engage in traditional learning lessons and activities. Attention focusers provide a different approach. They are calming activities that help children focus in preparation for learning.
Regardless of the type, brain breaks are critical in enhancing a child’s ability to learn. An article from the Scientific American says, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to achieve our highest levels of performance.” I love using both types of brain breaks with my children. I am excited to share some of my favorites with you.
Meditation – An Attention Focuser
Meditation is a unique way to provide your child with a much-needed break. It helps them to be mindful while calming their bodies and brains. Of course, as an extra perk, you can meditate with your child and also receive some personal focus and redirection. Which, in my experience, all parents – homeschooling or not – can use!
An easy way to implement this type of focuser is through the use of calming music and peaceful movement. In our home, we practice yoga for meditation purposes. Although I love calling myself a yoga guru, we are by no means experts. Our attempts at yoga provide moments of mindfulness. And these moments do a wonderful job of focusing our attention.
Chess – An Attention Focuser
Yet another favorite type of attention focuser is the traditional game of Chess. I am obsessed with the benefits that come from my children playing Chess.
Needless to say, a chessboard with pieces is always sitting out on our kitchen table or living room floor. My three-year-old is happy as a lark to play a game of pawns. On the other hand, my daughters (8 and 12 years old) play full games of chess using all pieces.
Chess teaches children to focus their minds and to think conscientiously. The rules of the game are easy and play is consistent. Children of different ages can engage one another or any adult who happens to be lurking nearby. When alone, they can even play against an imaginary opponent on a tablet! The more they play, the better their strategy becomes.
Chess is an inexpensive game that can be started, played, paused, or resumed at any time. Hence, Chess is a perfectly reliable brain break.
Recess – A Traditional Break
Homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to ignore traditional aspects of public schooling. Good old fashioned Physical Education or Recess is important for all children. Getting your child up and moving provides countless benefits including recharging their brain.
Do not neglect your neighborhood and city parks! You can also encourage your children to move at public recreation centers, pools, and indoor/outdoor mall playgrounds.
Structured or unstructured? Indoors or out? It doesn’t matter what your child’s physical brain break looks like. What matters is that their body is stretching, flexing, and doing its thing.
Playtime – A Traditional Break
Of course, my favorite type of brain break is traditional playtime. I am a firm believer in old-style toys. Please let your children play… be it building blocks, dolls, or a pillow and blanket fort. I am saying this with an emphasis on please. It is amazing what a child can do with a roll of yarn or a few toy cars. This type of brain break may be pretty obvious. Its genius is in its simplicity.
There is no pressure with this type of brain break. There is also no right or wrong. It is a brain break that allows for creativity at its best. Encourage play and if needed scaffold it. Then sit back and bask in the beauty of children self entertained by their own ingenuity and imagination.
You Are the Steward
The phrase “brain break” might be new terminology but the idea is not. Brain breaks allow children to be the best learners they can be.
These little nuggets of rejuvenating time are integral to the learning process. Time away from structured learning tasks is not time wasted. It is time savored and used wisely. It is, also, the scaffold on which true learning builds.
Homeschooling provides a unique situation where you, as parent and teacher, are the steward of your homeschooler’s time. You can and should allow for brief moments of pause in the chaos of a day. Savor these breaks, enjoy them, and reap the benefits.