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  • Writer's pictureEdith Esguerra

Movement Breaks help Brains focus

What are Movement breaks? How can they help my child to self-regulate? These are just a couple of the questions that we hear from parents when we talk about providing movement breaks to a child’s daily routines.

Let’s talk about movement first. Movement is mainly associated with our vestibular system. The vestibular system is a sensory system that is responsible for providing our brain with information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. It also is involved with motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement and maintain our posture. You can read more about the vestibular system here: Know Your Brain: Vestibular System.

So, what exactly are Movement Breaks?

Movement breaks are vestibular sensory inputs that promote engagement and self-regulation to our kids. These are short intervals that allow our kids to move their bodies and get back to feeling regulated and ready to learn or complete the task in front of them. We all need movement breaks! These breaks provide fuel to our brain. For example, at work, we regularly go for a stretch, a short walk to get coffee or even a water break. These short breaks help us to refocus and be more productive and efficient at work. For our kids, movement breaks will be in the form of short play and having fun together.

Here are some fun movement break games that you can try with your little ones at home and in school:

Animal walks. Let your child pretend to be an animal.

What you’ll need:

  • Animal pictures (printed or digital). Print out little pictures of animals. Cut and laminate to make it last longer. Ask the child to close their eyes in picking a card to add extra excitement to it!

  • Timer - Set a time for each chosen card.

  • Kids can also come up with their own animal ideas and take turns thinking about what animal they can all be together.

Exercise dice game.

What you’ll need:

  • A list of different exercises (e.g., jumping jacks, hopping, skipping, running, pushing the wall, tug of war, etc).

  • Game dice - you could also make up some movement cards and pull them out of a bag rather than a dice.

  • Timer

Yoga spinner

What you’ll need:

See these Kmart treasures below!

Other movement break ideas:

  • Pushing something heavy (toy shopping cart, laundry basket, a basket of books, etc.). For example, asking your child to “help” you pack away books or move the laundry basket to the laundry area.

  • Run a lap around the house

  • Scooter board around the room

  • Hopscotch

  • Bounce on yoga ball

  • Dance party!

  • Walk following a line

  • Push-ups (wall, chair, floor)

  • Bouncing a ball

  • Jumping on the mattress

Some signs that screams your child needs movement break at the moment:

  • Yawning

  • Tasks delaying

  • Becoming un-focused

  • Being fidgety or restless

  • Irritable and getting easily frustrated

It is important to make sure that the activities we provide to our kids are safe and developmentally appropriate. Consider the environment where you would do movement activities. Make sure it is clutter-free with no sharp objects or any hazardous materials nearby. When giving movement breaks, it is important to notice if activities put stress on your child and which activities are regulating/calming for them to help them focus. Different activities can have different effects on different children. Choose activities with a “just right challenge” for your child - this means an activity that is not too difficult for the child (too hard activities will result in frustration) or, too easy (too easy activities will result in disengagement and boredom).

Remember, we all need movement breaks! It is so much fun to spend movement breaks together with our kids!


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