Brain breaks are a simple and amazingly effective way to help a child get the most out of their teletherapy session. Better yet, most of them are very low-prep, fully customizable to the child, and easy to implement on the spot!
What are Brain Breaks?
Brain breaks are short easy games and exercises that act as small breaks throughout the teletherapy session. They boost oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain and body to fight off fatigue, brain fog, and other barriers to the therapy process.
Brain breaks are highly customizable. You can have a different brain break and strategy to custom fit each child for the day. It could even be as simple as running in place or trying to touch their nose with their elbow.
What Are the Benefits of Brain Breaks in Teletherapy?
There is a wide range of research-tested benefits of brain breaks and brief physical exercise.
If you incorporate brain breaks into a child's therapy session:
- They will be more attentive
- They will be able to retain more information
- They will be more engaged and motivated
- The distraction will help them feel less overwhelmed
- Brain breaks help improve brain function
- A well-timed brain break helps minimize disruptive behavior
A brain break also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress, heart rate, and blood pressure!
When Should I Incorporate Brain Breaks Into a Teletherapy Session?
In general, you want to break up a session at regular intervals before fatigue and boredom set in. Experts recommend a break every 10-15 minutes of focused activity for grade school. Middle and high school students will benefit from breaks every 20-30 minutes.
You may also want to insert a brain break in the following scenarios:
- Start of the Session: Sitting still and concentrating can be a challenge if the child is coming out of school, another screen session, or home errands. A quick physical activity will help them recharge and change gears for their teletherapy.
- Right Before You Give Them an Assignment. The boost of oxygen and blood flow will help the child be more alert and attentive. This will help them process any directions you give them. Both for the current session and any assignments they need to do before the next one!
- If The Child is Fidgeting or Distracted. Fidgeting is how a child gets the movement they need to stimulate their brains. When they are forced to sit still and quiet, their minds will start to wander and go into standby mode. Be extra mindful of how you interrupt the session for a brain break. A brain break will lose its value if the child associates it with disapproval or punishment.
- If the Child Needs Time to Process. When we take a brain break, our brains do not stop processing the matter at hand. However, it can help the child feel less pressured to come up with a response on the spot. It also gives them a chance to come back and articulate their answers more completely.
- When It’s Time to Shift Gears. A quick brain break can help transition from one segment of the therapy session to the next. If your client seems to struggle with moving onto a new part of the day’s therapy session, a quick brain break can help facilitate that transition.
Brain Breaks You Can Use in Teletherapy Today
Every child is unique, and luckily there are hundreds of different ways to keep them stimulated and engaged with a brain break. Here are a few ideas to get you started. Do any of them sound like a perfect fit for your clients?
- Hum. Humming songs the child likes with dance moves or simply moving their arms and legs can be a fun activity. It can even give you a glimpse into a newer client's interests and personality.
- Physical challenges. Small physical challenges can be fun for young minds. How high can they jump in three tries? Can they do ten jumping jacks in 10 seconds? Make sure the challenge is age-appropriate and safe for the space the child has to work with.
- Charades. Just like the board game! Have the child act out something based on a prompt, and try to guess what it is. There are various charades over zoom worksheets and variants on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers.
- Scavenger Hunt. How many things can they find around their home in five minutes?
- Brain Break Dances. Several Youtube channels like Jack Hartman provide music specifically for taking a brain break. Find songs and dances that fit each child.
- Mimic Me. A therapist can simply ask the child to copy whatever they do. There are also youtube video series like Copy Cat Me that feature mascots and animated characters that the child can mimic.
- Free Art Time. Utilizing a whiteboard, the child can draw, paint or scribble. TheraPlatform has a built-in whiteboard with drawing tools, stickers, and more right on their video conferencing platform.
- Short Yoga or Meditation. Sometimes just a bit of stretching or meditative breathing is all you need. During your video call, you can watch a short YouTube video and follow along.
Here is a video demonstrating 10 free and engaging brain breaks:
What Do I Need to Start Using Brain Breaks in Teletherapy?
Most brain breaks are very low-prep. In most cases, you just need a bit of creativity and a quick online search to find what you need.
Implementing an effective teletherapy session with brain breaks helps if you have a video conferencing platform that is made specifically with your teletherapy and your clients in mind. TheraPlatform is great for that and here is why?
The HIPAA compliant video conferencing of TheraPlatform has built- in tools such as:
- Apps and games for speech, language and cognition
- Interactive white board
- Ability for you to upload and organize your own resource library
- Screen sharing function that allows one to screen share and interact on both ends
- In- session video playing and more!
If you own a private practice or you are planning to start your own private practice, you can even document, bill, and communicate with your clients on TheraPlatform.
If this sounds like the perfect fit for you, check out our program here for a free trial! No credit card is required to get started.
To explore more topics related to teletherapy, private practice or any other therapy topic, check out our blog and a growing library of free therapy resources, where you will find content developed for you by your fellow therapists.
Our top picks for you related to therapy and teletherapy activities:
Free PDF with 30 Brain Breaks
We also put together a PDF for you to help you organize your brain breaks. Each activity has a description, source and recommended age. We hope you will find it useful and that the kiddos you work with will enjoy all of them!