While taking an Educational Psychology course in college I was once told that students in elementary schools have an attention span equal to their age in minutes. If this is true, most kindergarten students have an attention span of about five or six minutes. With an attention span that short it can be hard to maximize instruction. This is where a teacher can use “brain breaks” to help. A “Brain Break” is a 5-7 minute segments of physical activity that break up the academic day in the classroom. The short periods of exercise aim to improve the physical health, mental awareness and educational success of children.
Recently a study in Oregon was performed in classrooms that participate in “Brain Breaks”. A survey about an exercise DVD that adds short breaks of physical activity into the daily routine of elementary school students found it had a high level of popularity with both students and teachers, and offered clear advantages for overly sedentary educational programs. An Expert in public health and assistant professor at OSU of Agricultural Science named Gerd Bobe was the head of this study. She believes that “Kids need to move, they can’t just sit all day long, given the time constraints and multiple demands that schools are facing, and I really believe the concept of short activity breaks, right in the classroom, is the way to go”(Brain 2014). Elementary teachers that took place in the Oregon survey was able to give this feedback:
- Almost all teachers said the program was appropriate for their classes and well-understood by the class;
- More than 90 percent of teachers said the exercise segments had the right length, and that students were more focused after using the program;
- All of the segments were popular with more than 80 percent of students, but the stretching and relaxation activities had the highest approval, at 95 percent, and were also most frequently used by teachers;
- About three-fourths of the teachers were using the program two to three times per week, and more than 90 percent plan to continue its use
As you can see, teachers and students that utilized “Brain Breaks” in their classroom are very satisfied with the results they have seen. If you would like to see if these “Brain Breaks” can do the same for your classroom you can visit these websites for some ideas.
Sources: ‘Brain Breaks” increase activity, educational performance in elementary schools. September 23, 2014 By: Oregon State University Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Written by: Sean Fitzgerald North Newton Elementary PE Teacher