Being in the same environment for a long time can make anyone (kids and adults alike) fidgety.
Fidgeting behavior in children is often a sign that the brain and body need a break. Asking children to sit and listen requires a great deal of “turned on” brain activity. Over time, there will be burnout and the result can be inattention or a lack of motivation and focus. Each child is different; however, EVERY child can benefit from brain and movement breaks!
A great way to battle the fidgety-ness is incorporating “brain breaks” or “movement breaks” into your day. Fun and engaging brain and movement breaks are simple to create and incorporate, take very little time to execute and give enormous amounts of benefits!
Here are some fun ideas:
Transitions are already built into your day naturally, so simply adding a movement to it is possibly the simplest form of a functional break. When children first wake up, they generally transition to a task such as going to the bathroom. A simple movement activity to help “wake up” the brain can be adding an animal movement to this – for tiny tots, you might ask them to crawl to the bathroom like a cat! For older kiddos, you might have them do a more challenging motor movement such as skip to the bathroom. In addition, throughout the day, each transition opportunity can have an added motor movement to help with the re-focus, and re-engagement of the brain and body.
Brain Break Cards
Brain break cards can be as simple or as complex as you want to make them. Simply cut up paper into flash cards and write or draw a stretch or movement onto them. Kiddo’s can select a card anytime a break is warranted and take a min or two to do the movement on the card. Yoga moves are a popular brain break activity, the yoga spinner and yoga dice are a great tool to incorporate fine motor skills into selecting a brain break! The moves will help children weight bear through different long bones and joints in their body as well as get their blood flow going to reset from having been in a sitting position for an extended time.
Brain and movement breaks don’t always have to be a quick “in-between” type activity. Especially for younger kids, going outdoors for big, gross-motor stimulation is a great way to reset. Finding sensory based activities such as sand and water are also great ways to engage all of the sensory systems into a cognitive, skill-filled task.
Something as simple as taking a walk around the block while playing “I spy” is also a great way to stimulate the visual system. Looking far and out helps to relax the muscles around the eye, which tend to tighten when looking at a near point (such as in table work or digital media).
When you notice your children getting inattentive, or fidgety – consider a simple movement break to help them re-engage their focus to the task. Quantity of time spent doing “work” does not out-benefit the quality of engagement the child has on the task at hand!
I received a game in exchange for this blog post. All opinions expressed belong to me.
Lina Awshee is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with a background as a Pediatric Vision Therapist. Currently, Lina is practicing in the school systems where she works with students of all ages. When she isn’t working, Lina enjoys sharing purposeful ways to include skill development into daily playtime. You can find fun suggestions by following her on Instagram @motormommy.co.
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