Saturday 30 July 2022

Movement breaks

Movement breaks. Oh my gosh, what more can I say about these?? I'm fairly certain that the teachers at the little superheroes schools see me coming and think "but I've been giving them movement breaks!"

But first a little background! As with most topics, I have briefly spoken about movement breaks in other posts but have referred to them as sensory breaks.

Movement breaks, or sensory breaks, are all about our proprioception and our vestibular senses - two of those hidden senses that people generally aren't aware of.

Children aren't meant to sit still all day at school, so they need to move, and not just children who are Autistic. All children are not built to sit still all day, every day.

O has always described the need to move or to fidget as "if I move my feet and legs, then my brain can stay still."

Movement breaks can assist children to focus - one of L's teachers a few years ago recognised the benefits of movement breaks for all children in her class, and started getting the students to do simple yoga poses every afternoon for the last ten minutes of school. When one of the students asked why, she responded "do you learn anything in the last ten minutes of the day?"

Movement breaks can assist children to self regulate their emotions - both little superheroes have various movement stims that reflect how they are feeling emotionally. By stimming, or moving, they are able to self regulate their emotions.

When we're out and about as a family, we will give both little superheroes the opportunity to run, jump, climb to burn off the excess energy, which in turn assists them to calm.

Allowing a child to run at school when they need to self regulate can be tricky, due to supervision of the child.

So movement breaks don't necessarily need to be big movements. They could be as simple as running an errand from their class to another - often L is sent on errands around the school to deliver an envelope to a specific teacher. The note inside the envelope simply says "I need to move, please now send me back to my class."

The movement break could be doing simple yoga poses as a class - there are many free yoga for children videos on YouTube.

The child could be asked to help to hand out books or other items in class - this simple movement is often enough to assist in calming a child. Even moving chairs from one part of the classroom to another can be enough to calm a child.

We'll often give L the opportunity to move before school - we head to a park near by his school that he can, run and climb in.

O used to have a sensory chair band on the front two legs of the school chair - think a lycra band looped around the front two chair legs. Just by bouncing O's feet on the band during the day was enough to provide the movement breaks that O needed.

The important point to remember about movement breaks, is that children may not know that they need to move until it is too late. By the time that L thinks he needs a movement break it is often too late and the movement break will have the opposite effect. Instead of assisting him to calm, L will become even more agitated and fidgety! 

Movement breaks, therefore, should be scheduled regularly throughout the school day. 

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