Brain Breaks. What are they?

A brain break is when you take a moment (or two) to step away from what you are working on to give your brain time to decompress so it continues to work at its top potential. We all need them sometimes. Our students are no different.

The fact of the matter is that human attention spans are not what they used to be. This is true for adults, older kids, and young children. We are accustomed as a society to needing a short mental break every so often to be able to do our best. It doesn’t take much time, but it’s a good idea to not only incorporate it into the classroom but to also teach our students productive and appropriate ways to take the time they need to refocus.

From physical activity to educational brain breaks, they don’t take much time, can be implemented in a variety of ways, and leave everyone in a better mental space to achieve the proper goals in the classroom.

…Do They REALLY Need Movement Breaks?

Movement in the classroom is more than a distraction. There is plenty of research that explains that frequent brain breaks are necessary throughout the school day because younger children today do not have the core strength of previous generations due to the restriction of recess, lack of walking to school, and less physical playing in general.

So yes, the teacher who expects their students to sit quietly and do their work is in for a rough time.

The benefits of brain breaks are for everyone in the classroom, young and older students alike, AND a benefit for you. By taking a controlled few moments before the next task or implementing a simple game during a lesson, you are controlling the motion and will spend less time trying to redirect.

There are so many different scenarios for this. You can incorporate the entire class or set up a learning station that students can use when they need to. It really depends on what you see happening and what will be best for your students. However, by allowing for regular intervals of whole-body movements in your lesson plans, you will find that the productive minutes of work increase and the stress level of everyone in the class goes down.

From a classic game like Simon Says to new brain breaks like those found on places like YouTube, there is no “wrong” way to do a quick brain break.

Types of Brain Breaks

There is a multitude of quick activities to choose from when focusing on your students’ attention and mental health in the daily routine of your classroom. These short breaks look different depending on who needs one, from children to adults. From regulating energy levels to encouraging moment activities, there are different ways to use this simple technique for regulation during class time.

To help out our readers, we are creating the series: The Ultimate Guide to Brain Break Activities. Here, we will be covering a variety of different techniques and ideas for when your students (or you) just need a brain break to collect yourselves and move forward in a positive and productive fashion. These brain-break ideas will help younger kids to high school students (depending on what you decide to try).

As a general rule, make sure you take the age and maturity level of your students into account when giving things a try (and if something flops, that’s okay! Just try something else. You’ll find your secret sauce!)

What to do when your brain or child's brain needs a break


Below you will find links to our series on brain breaks. Click on the photograph to take you to that page.

brain breaks




brain breaks for middle school


calming brain breaks


just dance brain breaks


youtube brain breaks


brain breaks for kindergarten


alexa brain break


brain breaks during testing


This article was originally published on April 3, 2019

Student-Centered World