Recommendations for best practice
We have three recommendations for best practice. Firstly, the movement break should be tailored to the individual’s needs. Secondly, the movement break must help to support their arousal level. Finally, ensure there is structure and expectations.
Tailoring the movement for each individual
Each individual is different and will have different needs. This means that there is no one size fits all movement break solution. Some students might need a calmer break to help them to lower their alertness. Others, whilst they need movement to help to become more alert, will also need structure to help them to get organised.
You can watch to see how the individual attends and maintains focus after the break. If their attention has improved, then the movement was likely the right solution for them. However, if they are more dysregulated it will need to change.
Movement breaks to support arousal level
Remember, the primary goal of a movement break is to help the individual to be more organised and ready to attend to their task. At home, this might be sitting and eating dinner or doing homework. At school, it’s typically being ready to sit and learn.
As a rule, faster and less rhythmic movement is more energising. Slower, more rhythmic movement is calming. And, heavy work, or activities with a lot of push and pull can help to both calm and organise.
Some children might just need to calm down, so a yoga session might be helpful. Others may just need to increase their alertness, so a short burst of running and jumping will work. However, many students will need a combination of movement and then something to help them to reorganise at the end. For example, there may be jumping and running to start, but then there is a pushing and breathing activity to end. We demonstrate this in our first movement break video which you can watch below.
Have structure and expectations during movement breaks
Finally, it’s ok to have structure and expectations with the movement break. In fact, it is recommended! Often without this, students become more unsettled and less ready for work.
It could be that students have to run around sports markings on the field, or, around cones or to a specific sequence of landmarks. Counting is a great way to add structure. Videos, see below, are a really easy way to do this.