In a previous post I talked about how one of the reasons we homeschool our special needs kids is because of their need for Brain Breaks throughout the day. You can read about all my other reasons here.
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Why We Use Brain Breaks
My kids, like a lot of kids with special needs, do not have a long attention span, especially for new information. It takes a lot of their energy to learn and remember new information. Their processing speed is slower than typical children as well. It literally takes information a lot longer to reach their brain.
It’s Hard to Watch Your Kids Struggle to Learn
I feel so bad for them as they sit at the table trying so desperately to remember something they know they learned yesterday. Their brains are working overtime every minute of every day. Everything they do and learn requires a lot of brain power, it’s so tiring for them. I like to think of it like when I have to write a hard exam or give a long speech. When my husband preaches a sermon, he is mentally exhausted afterwards. He usually has a long nap in the afternoon to give his brain a chance to recharge. We choose to give our kids Brain Breaks throughout the day so their brains never reach that exhausted state.
When kids are given Brain Breaks throughout the day, they are happier, learn better and remember more of the information the next day. Plus they can expel a lot of energy and not drive the rest of the family crazy 😉 I like to keep the Brain Breaks short, otherwise they often don’t want to come back to do their school work.
When Do Kids Need Brain Breaks
How often should your child get a Brain Break? That totally depends on your child. I have one that can’t go more than 10-20 minutes without a break. I know that it is time for a break when her eyes start darting around the room and every question I ask her gets answered with a ‘I don’t know.’ Then it’s time for her to go a play for a bit or do one of the following activities. You know your child, you will know when it is time for them to take a break.
Our Favorite Brain Breaks
Gorilla Gym or Gym 1 as it is now called in Canada has been the best purchase we have ever made in terms of our kids’ sensory needs. There is not a day or even an hour that goes by that they aren’t using it or one of it’s many accessories.
If you have not heard of it, it’s a system that attaches to a door frame and from that main component you can hang one of the many accessories that is included in the kids package. Ours came with a swing, a rope ladder, a trapeze bar, a set of rings and a climbing rope. At first, my kids used just the swing, but this summer they really started getting creative and now use the rings almost exclusively. They have even started making up little routines, it’s so cute to watch! Just the act of being upside down calms them down and my sensory seeker feels like he is doing something dangerous and he likes that (a lot). It allows them to expel a lot of energy inside without wrecking the house.
I cannot recommend the Gorilla Gym enough! Once our occupational therapist saw the kids on ours, she went out and bought several for her office.
If you would like to buy your own Gorilla Gym or Gym 1 in Canada, click here to receive a coupon code for a discount on your whole purchase.
Play Outside – There is really nothing like playing outside for a Brain Break. The fresh air works wonderfully for calming them. Plus, being able to run and jump and climb trees gives them a break from using their brain exclusively. There is just something about being in nature that allows them to be able to focus again.
Lego is a great way for kids to decompress. Sometimes, my kids do not want to run around, sometimes they need some peace and quiet and some down time. Lego is perfect for that! It allows them to use their creative side and their fine motor skills to create something they are very proud of in the end.
Go for a walk – My kids love to take the dog for a walk. I often use this time to chat with the kids about how they are feeling and to sneak in a little learning while we walk. Sometimes, just the act of walking while they learn helps them remember facts that they don’t while they are sitting. I usually use this time to go over facts like our address and phone number, safety rules and what to do when if they would get lost. Just the act of learning in another environment is another type of Brain Break.
Trampoline – We just have a small trampoline or re-bounder in our house. It is what we use when I want the kids to just have a short Brain Break. Five minutes on the trampoline is enough to allow them to get rid of a lot of energy and to give their brains a break.
Music – My kids love a good music brain break. We turn up the music and dance and really have a lot of fun just being silly.
Snacks are great a little Brain Break! My kids especially love a snack that they have to work at eating. Anything crunchy or super chewy is great for their sensory needs.
I hope I have given you a glimpse of why Brain Breaks are so important. They don’t have to be long, often 5-10 minutes is enough to allow the kids to recharge and get back to learning. What are your families’ favorite brain breaks? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook or Instagram.
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