There was a stack of books sitting next to me on the driveway. We had just finished reading Aesop’s Fables and I told the girls to go play for ten minutes. I set the timer and got up to stretch as well.
This was the routine for most of our school days for the first three years of our homeschooling. 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 back to this schedule on days she found it difficult to focus or if we took our lessons to the park.
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3 Ways to Incorporate Movement to Improve Focus
1. 10-Minute Breaks
Our go-to method of incorporating movement during the first four years of homeschooling was to utilize 10-minute breaks.
Completing only two lessons at a time (a reading and an activity) helped train my children in the 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.
The way I implemented 10-minute breaks was to read a lesson and complete an activity such as copywork, math lesson, or recitation. This was followed by a 10-minute break. I set a timer for ten minutes to hold myself accountable also. When the timer went off, I called the girls back for our next lesson. If they did not obey and I had to tell them more than once to return for the next lesson, they lost the privilege of the next 10-minute break.
Hold yourself accountable, too. I would suggest not getting on the computer or phone during this time. Instead, read a teacher development book, work on next week’s lesson plans, or move a load of laundry. I speak from experience that if I opened my computer or phone during this time, I had a very difficult time pulling myself back for the next lesson even though my children were ready!
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 some boundaries to encourage them to move. In the video below I explain how this has looked for us through the years.
Another way we incorporate movement into our homeschool day is through brain breaks. Several times 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. I participate with the girls and do it too. (All except the standing on your head one!)
What I love about the Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks is that all of the guesswork is removed. The only preparation is initially cutting them apart. You just 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 brain break.
3. PE Activities
Finally, I try to incorporate some type of PE activity each day. I schedule 20 minutes in our school day and use a variety of activities including:
- Use the elliptical machine
- 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
- Mini trampoline
- Bean bag toss
- Chinese jump rope
- Outdoor activities
- Ball toss
- Ball-handling skills
- Frisbee toss
- Frisbee target practice
- Frisbee golf
- Running or line drills
- Riding a bike or scooter
- Jumping rope
- Hula hoop
How do you incorporate movement to improve your student’s focus?