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Movement Breaks

Updated: Jan 23

Children's hands

Movement breaks are a short interval to allow children to move their bodies to help to reengage their brain and attention. A movement break is literally that – a break to get up and move. This can really mean anything – stretches, action songs, aerobics, yoga or games.

Although this is particularly helpful for children with ADHD or autism it is effective for all children. Quick, frequent breaks not only enable students to stay focused on learning and can actually improve learning. The break can allow the brain time to process the information that it has learnt and can then leave them re-energised to learn the next bit. It can also help to relax the children as a stressed brain is unlikely to retain new information. Movement promotes a fun learning environment. Also it is a perfect way to support gross motor skills development.

Well timed regular movement breaks can help children refocus their attention and stay on task. We as adults are exactly the same, when I have spent all morning on a training course listening to someone talk at me, my mind starts to wander but then give me a 10 minute break to stretch my legs and get a drink and I can focus again.

As a teacher it is usually very clear if the children in your class are in need of a movement break – the fidgeting starts, tapping their pencil, staring around the room, poking the person next to them.

Managing 30 children doing a physical activity in a small classroom is not necessarily easy which is why you need to train your class and as movement break become a regular thing in your classroom your children will learn exactly what is expected. Some simple ways to keep control are:

  • Use visuals for what you expect them to do.

  • Use a timer and make it clear that when time is up the activity ends.

  • Practice using the word ‘freeze’ and getting them to instantly stop

Why not give our wriggle break cards a try.

Example of our wriggle break cards

Print and laminate the cards. There are then different ways in which you can use the cards. You could display them and then point to the one you would like them to do, you can pick different children to choose a card that the whole class will then do or that are some activities that are perfect to use for individual children if there is one child in particular that needs a break before others do.

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