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Give ‘Em a Break:

Using Brain Breaks to Reinforce Social Skills

Denise Pratt, MOL - Boys Town National Training

Every teacher recognizes the signs… students start losing their focus and soon no one can concentrate, including you. First, a boy in the back starts tapping out a song on his desk with his pencil. Then two girls start making faces at each other and giggling. And now, a perpetually fidgety student starts a slow, yet relentless slide out of his chair.

It’s a perfect storm… more academic rigor… less recess time. Or perhaps it is time for a test or complex task… We know that students really need to focus, but what you have is a classroom full of potential distractors that can’t seem to settle and concentrate. Students, especially students with a lot of energy, can struggle in these situations.

This is a perfect time to take a brain break! Brain breaks can serve a variety of purposes:  to energize, focus or calm students, while also rewarding them and having a little fun. That said, brain breaks aren’t magic. They take preparation, supervision and structure, just like any classroom activity.

Without a proper set up, these activities can lead to additional chaos… Two boys may get too close to each other while dancing and run into each other, a group of girls might start laughing uncontrollably or students may simply have a hard time returning to their classwork after being distracted by a little fun. The good news is if you can predict it, you can plan for it. Just like any class routine or procedure, brain breaks should be:

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