Brain Breaks to Help Your Child Stay Engaged and Entertained While Homeschooling
It's a whole new ball game!
Amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic we're all finding ourselves in uncharted waters, especially those of us who are parents of school age children. On top of juggling caring for our children, keeping them entertained (devoid of the normal extra curricular activities and play time with friends), we are also balancing the new dynamic of getting work done from home and playing teacher for our kids on top of it!
If you're feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone.
There have been days recently where I felt like I had a plan, like I could tackle it all and even smile while doing so! and others when I've wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball in bed & a drink box of wine while binging crappy TV. It's okay to not know what the hell you're doing... none of us do!
While preparing to "homeschool" my son John, I've done a lot of reading. I want to do everything I can to ensure our days have a decent rhythm and a little bit of normalcy. I've found that the more structure I have in place for our days, the quicker and easier they go, and the less griping I have to endure when it is time to get some school work done.
In my reading I've found so many helpful resources from both teachers and homeschool parents alike - so if you're feeling lost I encourage you to talk to your children's teachers, do some googling, and check out all the awesome homeschooling pins on Pinterest. I've seen hundreds for children of all ages!
The one resounding agreement from teachers & homeschool parents is that regular breaks in learning are important, especially for younger children. Their minds aren't wired to sit and "grind it out" on several hours of lessons. More breaks = more focus and attention when working on assignments, less fidgeting and complaining and less frustration for you! Here's some great info I've learned courtesy of edutopia.org ;
"Regular breaks throughout the school day—from short brain breaks in the classroom to the longer break of recess—are not simply downtime for students. Such breaks increase their productivity and provide them with opportunities to develop creativity and social skills.
Students, particularly young ones, often struggle with staying focused for long periods of time. In a 2016 study, psychologist Karrie Godwin and a team of researchers measured how attentive elementary students were during class, and discovered that they spent over a quarter of the time distracted, unable to focus on the teacher or the current task. Shorter lessons, however, kept student attention high: Teachers found it more effective to give several 10-minute lessons instead of fewer 30-minute ones.
And there are more benefits to downtime than increased attention: It decreases stress, increases productivity, boosts brain function, and provides opportunities for children to learn social skills.
REDUCING STRESS, INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY
Recent research shows that our brains aren’t idle when we take breaks—they’re hard at work processing memories and helping us make sense of what we experience. In a groundbreaking 2012 study, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang and her colleagues at USC and MIT used an fMRI scanner to examine neural activity during the brain’s “default mode”—a state of rest that’s usually associated with taking a break or letting our minds wander. In this state, the brain is still highly active, with a different set of regions lighting up than when we’re focused on the outside world.
Further experiments showed that this default mode is crucial for consolidating memories, reflecting on past experiences, and planning for the future—in other words, it helps shape how we make sense of our lives. Breaks keep our brains healthy and play a key role in cognitive abilities such as reading comprehension and divergent thinking (the ability to generate and make sense of novel ideas). “Rest is indeed not idleness, nor is it a wasted opportunity for productivity,” Immordino-Yang and her colleagues write.
So breaks are an essential part of learning. But the benefits extend beyond the psychological well-being of students. Particularly for younger students, regular breaks throughout the school day can be an effective way to reduce disruptive behavior. In a series of recent studies, short physical activity breaks in the classroom improved students’ behavior, increasing the effort they put into their activities as well as their ability to stay on task."
SO, with all of this evidence at hand - I've complied a list of fun and engaging brain-breaks for kiddos that can be done to break up your days of schooling at home. These actives vary in length of time, from 30 minutes to 5.
Make a Smoothie
Nerf Gun Target Practice
Hide & Seek
Build a Block Tower
Walk the Dog
Build a Fort
FaceTime a friend or family member
Find 3 Different Insects
Play in the Sprinkler
Build a Birds Nest with Twigs
Water the Plants
Make an Obstacle Course
Fold 3 different paper-airplane styles and see which flies best
Play Dress Up
I have written all of these brain breaks on popsicle sticks and allow John to choose one at random at least twice a day. They help break up the day, keep us active and give us an opportunity for some really special quality time in-between working and school time on our computers.
I hope you find this post helpful and get some ideas for brain breaks in your home! If you have additional suggestions to add, make sure to comment and let me know!
Keep it Crazy, Keep it Beautiful.