New Morning School students have a minimum of three energizing breaks each day. In Elementary, they are called “Brain Breaks” while in Middle School, we call them “Jump Start.” The purpose is to give students a break from the intensity of mental focus required of them during their academic work while also engaging them in at least 15 minutes of aerobic activity. Studies show that clarity of thinking and ability to focus remain elevated for several hours following even just 15 minutes of aerobic activity.
During Museum this past week, middle school students and teachers alike found these breaks essential in enabling us to sustain the high level of concentration required to write our essays. After some particularly intense work on Thursday afternoon, a surprise hot chocolate break also helped recharge our batteries as did some time spent just coloring and talking together on Friday. The work we were able to do following these and other breaks was much more productive as a result of having taken them.
Support for taking organized breaks
New research further supports this approach. Behavioral scientist Daniel Pink is the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, A Whole New Mind, and most recently, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. In a recent interview, he explained that while we may think it weak or amateur to take breaks, his research indicates,
…it’s the exact opposite. Professionals take breaks. Amateurs don’t. Breaks are part of performance. They’re not a deviation from performance.”
So good to know that here at New Morning School, we are already ahead of the curve in doing what is best for the brains and bodies of our students while also helping them develop important habits for a healthfully balanced life!
- From an interview with Daniel Pink from “All Things Considered” on National Public Radio, 01-17-18, 4:16 p.m.
- Dr. Cheryl Blau is a middle school teacher with New Morning School, Plymouth, MI.