Assignment: Education – brain breaks

Physical activity is an important part of the learning process for students.

However, according to the most recently published Minnesota Student Survey, more than three-quarters of the fifth-graders in Winona County are not getting enough exercise.

The Winona County PartnerSHIP project is working toward increasing opportunities for physical activity.

Trainers from the Minnesota Department of Education gave ideas for brain breaks at Ridgeway Community School near Winona.

Research shows physical activity helps kids learn.

“(It) helps with attention, focus and a lot of different other behaviors that we see in a school setting,” said Winona County PartnerSHIP coordinator Janneke Sobeck.

It also allows for academic breaks throughout a student’s day.

“I can just tell they’re ready to do something to get some energy out and restart the activity that we’re working on,” said Ridgeway Community School kindergarten teacher Danielle Helms.

But these mental breaks from academics do more than just help kids get the wiggles out.

“The movements we were doing in the yoga brain break actually work both sides of their brain and strengthen their core muscles,” said Helms, “and helps them sit longer and self-regulate when they work their core muscles.”

At the same time, the teachers are trained to incorporate academics into the exercise.

“They don’t realize they’re learning necessarily within that, but by the end of this year, they’ll be able to do some of those counting strategies without strategically learning it within our academic time because they’ve heard it so many times each day as we do the yoga,” said Helms.

Yoga is just one type of brain break.

The Winona County PartnerSHIP organization has free copies of a booklet called “Energizers” that offers dozens of physical activities that can be used for classroom breaks.

Contact Live Well Winona at 507-474-9825 to get a copy.

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