The Importance of Brain Breaks and Mindfulness
Many of the schools Free Agency Australia sends you to for either casual relief teaching or education support applies time for brain breaks and mindfulness throughout the school days.
These two types of learning were popular during remote learning and are still practised today in the classroom.
We as teachers, have to remember this isn't a time for punishment or to give students the "silent treatment" when misbehaving. It is a valuable time for students to be mindful of themselves and to refocus in the surrounding environment.
When it comes to mindfulness we often go to straight away to the ‘easy tasks’ for students to do such a colouring, drawing and silent reading. These activities are still beneficial, however, we thought we would provide you with alternatives to make mindfulness and brain breaks more interesting to students! Before we get into this, we thought we would give you some background on what brain breaks and mindfulness are.
What are Brain Breaks?
Brain breaks are small mental break that are designed to support student focus. They are like a small reset, especially if students are getting rowdy or need a break from a jam-packed lesson that had too much information overload! Brain breaks are not just good for primary students but also through to secondary. Us teachers too, are sometimes in need of a brain break especially in the afternoon!
Brain breaks allow creativity and social skills to bloom whether it is through a small game, listening to calming music or a time to be quiet and still.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is maintaining awareness of our thoughts, emotions and the surrounding environment. Mindfulness is a great way to calm students down especially after lunch and students where they have a lot of energy and just need to refocus for their learning.
How does Mindfulness and Brain Breaks support student learning?
There are many reasons why brain breaks and mindfulness in teaching are beneficial for student learning:
- Encourages better behaviour
- Increases productivity
- Encourages engagement
- Supports mental and social skills
- Supports creative thinking and problem solving
To understand further on Mindfulness in the classroom, we have attached a Ted Talk by Richard Burnett who talks about mindfulness in schools and the benefits it causes in the classroom.
Twinkl has a range of different brain break activities and below they have listed the best brain break activities to do with students! Many are movement-based learning for students to do outside of the classroom. Have a look, you never know, you might find something different to use when out of the classroom for that much needed break from learning!
Teacher Starter also provide a range of 5 to 10 minute mindfulness activities for self awareness. Many are surrounded around breathing and meditation which is a great way to bring calm back in the classroom.
Amanda Morin has written a great article on Brain Breaks and how they support as a behaviour strategy in the classroom, there are many tips and tricks to read through and providing some engaging resources to use. We have added the link below.
A great online resource that is used in both primary and secondary schools is Smiling Mind. It is a great online resource that provides teachers and students with self-directed videos to support mental health development. The meditation videos are fantastic to use with students to unwind from an energised lunchtime or to refocus for the afternoon. They also have a free app that you can download on your phone to give you access anywhere. Below is the website for more information.
We hope these resources will support you when out casual relief teaching or supporting students. We also hope it gives you a broader insight on the importance of brain breaks and mindfulness in the classroom!