Preview: Incorporating movement into your homeschool day improves your child’s ability to focus. Here are three to incorporate more movement.
There was a stack of books sitting next to me on the driveway. We had just finished reading Aesop’s Fables, and I told my daughters to play for ten minutes. I set the timer and got up to stretch as well.
This was the routine for most of our homeschool days for our first four years. We completed two lessons (a reading and an activity), then took a 10-minute break for them to run and play. Even when my oldest was in third grade, we reverted to this schedule when she found it difficult to focus or took our lessons to the park.
Incorporating movement into your homeschool day has many benefits, including improving your child’s ability to focus. (Read about more the benefits of movement.) Even adults need to get up to walk around or stretch after a period of focused work.
Here are three of our favorite ways to incorporate movement into our homeschool day.
1. Take 10-Minute Breaks.
Our go-to method of incorporating movement during our first four years of homeschooling was to take 10-minute breaks.
Completing only two lessons at a time (a reading and an activity) helped to train my children’s habit of attention (focusing during our short lesson) and obedience (returning after the 10-minute break was over). This was also a good way to help me remember to keep our lessons short.
I implemented 10-minute breaks by reading a lesson and completing an activity such as copy work, math lesson, or recitation. I then set a timer for ten minutes. When the timer went off, I called the girls back for our next lesson. If they did not return quickly for the next lesson, they lost the privilege of the next 10-minute break.
Hold yourself accountable, too. I did not get on the computer or phone during this time. Instead, I read a teacher development book, worked on next week’s lesson plans, or moved a load of laundry.
Don’t assume this technique is only for young students. Older students also benefit from an occasional day of 10-minute break activities, although you may need to set boundaries to encourage them to move.
2. Use brain break activities.
Another way we incorporate movement into our homeschool day is through brain breaks. Throughout our morning (or whenever we need to shake out the glazed-over look in their eyes), we pull a card from our brain breaks jar and do what it says.
What I love about the Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks is that all of the guesswork is removed. The only preparation is initially cutting the activity cards apart. You pull a card from the jar and do what it says. If you do not know what to do, the book has a written description and, often, a picture illustrating each activity.
3. Do something physical.
Finally, I try to incorporate physical activity in our homeschool each day. Listed below are some of the activities we have done.
- Practice a skill from Physical Education for Children at Home by Diane Taylor
- Indoor activities
- Obstacle course
- Balancing activities
- Pool noodle target toss
- Balloon volleyball
- Balloon activities
- Walk like a…bear, crab, duck
- Circuits (jumping jacks, cross-crawl, high knees, squats, push-ups)
- Simon Says
- Jump on a mini-trampoline
- Bean bag toss
- Chinese jump rope
- Use the elliptical machine
- Walk on the treadmill
- Outdoor activities
- Ball toss
- Ball-handling skills
- Frisbee toss
- Frisbee target practice
- Frisbee golf
- Running or line drills
- Ride a bike or scooter
- Jump rope
- Hula hoop
- Take a walk
- Go for a run
Need help getting your child to focus during lessons?
In episode 82 of the All in a Homeschool Day podcast, you’ll learn nine more ways you can keep your child focused on his lessons.