The Importance of Movement Breaks During Remote Learning
As the fall school year commences, most parents are faced with a new challenge of helping their kids navigate remote learning. Whether its 2-3 days per week or full-time, attending and focusing for 3-5 hours per day at a computer would be challenging for most adults! So how do we help our kids?
Like an adult working at an office, typically you are not sitting in the same spot for 5 hours without moving. You get up to get a drink, chat with your co-worker down the hall, use the bathroom, grab a snack from the vending machine or stretch. These are all different types of movement breaks and completing these independently when your body needs them is called self-regulation.
Unlike adults, kids (including teenagers) often don’t have the ability to self-regulate when they need to and will tolerate a variety of bothersome inputs until it is too much and they can’t handle it any more. This is when you will see tantrums, meltdowns, kids walking away and avoiding tasks and refusal to participate. One way to help decrease these difficulties is to incorporate movement breaks into their remote learning. More frequently for younger kids (every 15-30 minutes for preschool through elementary school) and longer for older kids (every 45 minutes to 60 minutes). There is a reason why class periods for high school are typically 45-60 minutes. Switching classes is a movement break and helps with self-regulation!
Here are some movement break ideas to implement during remote learning:
- Jogging in place for 15 seconds
- Completing 10 jumping jacks (change the number based on the date, i.e. 25 jumping jacks on the 25th)
- A yoga pose (tree, mountain, downward dog, child pose) or many others!
- Walking up the stairs in the house
- Going outside for a 10 minute scavenger hunt to look for various colored objects
- Change your seating: sit on a therapy ball, wiggle cushion, bicycle so you can pedal while on the computer, stand up, lie on your stomach, etc. Note: Be careful no to lie on your stomach for too long as it could cause back or neck strain, but use it as a movement break
- Completing wheelbarrow walks, crab walks, bear crawls down the hallway
- Chair push-ups (placing hands on chair and pushing body up) or wall push-ups (placing hands on wall and with legs straight, push against) are quick and easy way to provide heavy work input to your body
- Take a sensory break and play with a sensory bin filled with sand, water, rice, or beans
- Jump on a trampoline or crash into pillows or bean bags
- Listen to music
- Have a crunchy/chewy snack (crackers, pretzels, carrots, dried fruit, raisins, chewing gum)
- Drink of water through bite valve or straw water bottle (sucking/chewing are calming more regulating)
There are many more options! Be flexible and creative! Good luck! For more information or to schedule an occupational therapy evaluation at Spaulding Lexington Outpatient Center, please contact our front desk at 781-860-1742.