For most of us, the school year will be in full swing within the next month. Let’s start off strong by pushing our students to move if they can and when they can, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their learning or our teaching. Remember that physical activity (even little spurts) helps students with concentration, on-task behavior, and focus, among others.
Here are 3 positive classroom physical activity habits for your classroom!
Create a Daily Schedule
YOU dictate the daily schedule. While there are some non-negotiables such as times for specials or lunch, the rest of the day often has holes in which you can block in a 5- or 10-minute activity break or a mindful minute.
Teachers have told me that oftentimes they are so focused on the content they are teaching that they forget to give students time to move. If students know they have the movement break coming or if the schedule is written on the board for them to see, they will surely remind you not to forget their break!
Set Boundaries and Expectations
It is also YOUR prerogative to set boundaries and expectations regarding movement breaks. Perhaps a good beginning of the year activity would be to provide some example movement ideas and have the students agree on the best activity break options for them to select.
Activity break examples:
- Box of activity break cards students can complete on their own
- Movements to try in a specified area of the room
- Walk to the water fountain for a drink
- Walk to the trash can to throw something away
Part of the expectations should include consequences if students do not handle the breaks appropriately. If they are distracting you while teaching or others while learning, then you have every right to take away their privileges with the notion that they must earn back the opportunity.
Allow Students to Self-Select Movement Breaks
Consider allowing students to self-select when they want/need a movement break throughout the day. While this type of thing has not been researched to know its effectiveness, it seems like showing students you trust them to make the right decisions could lead to better relationships down the road.
For instance (along the lines from the last tip), give students parameters regarding their choice to take a break. One may be that self-selected activity breaks are allowed when the teacher is not instructing and/or when the background music has been turned on. Another may be that only one student is allowed to be in an available movement space at a time. Perhaps time limits should be implemented as well. Additional parameters may include the types of movement breaks allowed.
Movement break ideas:
- Walk to water fountain for a drink
- Mindful minute corner
- Choice of activity card in specified location
The sky’s the limit with how you choose to handle activity breaks with your students! Every situation is unique. Kids have an inherent need to move. If you can capitalize on that and channel their energy in appropriate ways, it seems like a win-win for all parties.
BrainPrimers: Easy-to-Implement Activity Break Tool
Capture your students’ attention while stimulating their:
- Social interaction
Follow the cards in progression or pick and choose cards to focus on certain skills to encourage physical activity in the classroom!
Heather is a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion at the University of Kentucky. She is a former physical education teacher, and co-author of Dynamic Physical Education for Secondary School Children, 8ed. Heather was also the recipient of the NASPE Curriculum and Instruction Young Scholar Award and a AAHPERD Research Consortium Fellow.