In the classroom, your child’s teacher might use brain breaks from a kids’ fitness program like GoNoodle or HOPSports. These short activities encourage kids to move around and re-set their brains so they can focus better on learning.
At home, you can use brain breaks in much the same way. If your child is struggling with homework, have her do one or two of these activities. They’re a simple way to fight frustration and improve focus—plus they help fulfill your child’s daily need for physical activity.
Brain breaks should be active and fun, but not so fun or lengthy that kids have a hard time getting back to work. While school-based programs often use videos to set the scene and demonstrate moves, none of the activities below require screens. It’s too easy for kids to get sucked in and not want to return to their task. Generally, you should time the activity, so it doesn’t take up too much of your available homework time. Tell your child in advance how long the break will be. This can also make it more fun and exciting (like a race).
Indoor Brain Breaks
- Jumping jacks, jump rope, or other jumps. Challenge your child to do a certain number of several kinds of jumps, or to see how many jumps he can do in 60 seconds.
- Shadow box
- Hula hoop tricks
- Play “keep-it-up” with a beach ball or balloon, or play another quick balloon game
- March or high-step around the house
- Run, skip, or grapevine down a hallway (or do a combination of moves)
- Shoot (Nerf) baskets
- Do push-ups or planks: How about a family plank challenge?
- Do yoga poses or stretches
- Bear crawl or crab walk across the room and back
- Bounce or jump on a mini-trampoline (or on the bed!)
- Play ping-pong (you don’t have to have a special table, just paddles, a ball, and a surface to hit across)
- Putt a golf ball into a cup or box
- Have a dance party—just one or two songs
- Create a brain-break jar, with activities, variations, and places. Choose a few and perform the task, like “Hop 10 times / on one foot / in the kitchen.”
- Instant treasure hunt: Tell your child to go find “something soft and purple” or “something that can play music” and bring it back to you.
- Balance test: Put a paper plate on your child’s head and have him walk across the room. Make it harder by adding something to the plate, like a beanbag (easy), or a ping pong ball (harder)
- Go on an imaginary roller coaster ride: In a chair, mimic putting on a harness, leaning back (as the coaster climbs up a hill), leaning side-to-side (as the coaster twists and turns on the track), raising your hands up high (as the coaster plunges down a hill). You can even add unhooking the harness and stumbling off the coaster at the end.
- Breathe and move: Have kids stand and add a movement to each breath. You might raise one leg to a bent-knee position, for example, while inhaling (lift) and exhaling (lower). Do several different moves to challenge balance and regulate breath.
Outdoor Brain Breaks
- Walk around your block. Bring your dog if you have one.
- Bike, scooter, or in-line skate around the block.
- Play fetch with your dog, or try one of these other activities to share with your pup.
- Play catch with a parent, sibling or friend.
- Dribble a soccer ball or basketball, or shoot baskets.
- Draw a hopscotch court and play a game.
- Play on the swings, slide, or climber, if one is handy.
- Play a quick game of tennis or badminton (or just volley with a partner, or hit a tennis ball against a backboard or wall.
- Play the 7-up game.
Parents, don’t forget that you can join in the brain break fun too. Your kids will enjoy the breaks more if you participate with them, and you’ll get a little exercise out of the deal too.