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The Importance of Brain Breaks

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I’ve heard it said that most people want to quit homeschooling in February and November. I totally believe it. It’s so easy to get burnt out and tired while homeschooling. This time of the year, there is so much going on. Meals to cook, company to prepare for, holiday parties to attend. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

I remember vividly our first year homeschooling. I wanted so badly to be able to take December “off” of our traditional lessons so we could focus on “holiday school.” Instead of taking a breath, and adjusting my expectations, I pushed the kids to complete all their lessons so we could have time for all the fun things I had planned.

What a mistake that was!

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Kids, and their squishy adorable kid brains need BREAKS. Not just big breaks, like Christmas and summer break, but breaks during the school day as well. Breaks are good for the soul. They let you recharge. They give you a chance to process all the other information you stuck in there. They help you reset, and get ready for the next task.

If your children are struggling during the school day (like mine are) try some of these ideas:

Get outside

Fresh air is a fantastic way to recharge. There is something calming about sun on your face and grass under your toes. When Bug starts to feel tired and has trouble focusing, I often call a break to send him outside to run some laps in the yard, or just sit under the tree for a moment to read or draw.

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Get active

For Mr. Man, activity is a great way to bring focus. If he is struggling with his schoolwork, I can have him run in place, or do some jumping jacks. If he’s in a bad mood, putting a song on the radio (I’m personally a fan of Cheap Trick) and we’ll dance around the kitchen. Before I know it, we’re both laughing, and the frustration has passed.

Try a sensory activity

Sitting at the table working on penmanship is difficult. Writing is difficult. My kids struggle with their hands getting tired, and a sensory activity often provides the break (and the stretch for their little fingers!) that they need.

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Lately, we’ve discovered Bunchems, a new building toy that consists of little squishy balls that stick together. They have a wonderful texture for sensory seeking kids- they are just a little bit fuzzy (a bit like the rough side of velcro) and a little bit squishy. I keep a box of them up on the shelf in the dining room, and we can bring them out when the kids really need a quiet activity at the table. Touching the Bunchems helps focus my sensory seeker, and relaxes him.

Build something

The act of building is also a powerful brain break. For most subjects, you can find something for the kids to build. They can build the great wall of china, or the french flag, or a representation of four fourths using whatever materials you have handy.

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We love to bring hands-on activities into our lessons. Bunchems have been a wonderful addition to our school day- the kids have made everything from imaginary animals, to characters from the stories we’ve been reading.

Play board games

No space to play? Put down the books and play word games instead. You can tell riddles or jokes, play the ABC animals game, or just do some tongue twisters with the kids. Anything to relax them and get them giggling is a good choice! This is a GREAT list of educational games that are fun!!

Have a quiet moment

Some kids just need a quiet moment to recharge. If you were a public schooled student, you may remember your teacher turning off the classroom lights, and having you put your head on the desk while she read aloud. I still remember the cool feeling of the desk on my forehead. You can do the same thing with your kids at home.

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Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to make time for quiet, relaxation and fun in your school day so you don’t end up burnt out.

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