With Spring Break a fleeting memory, we now look forward to summer break. The last few weeks of the school year can always be a real struggle for students and teachers, which can make the testing season exceptionally challenging. With short brain breaks and mindful moments educators can support their own mental health and wellness, as well as that of their students.
The pressure and stress of testing, final exams and projects and other end-of-year duties can have a significant impact on mental health, which leads to anxiety and other challenges. Outside of promoting healthy habits like regular exercise, balanced nutrition and getting enough sleep, wellness tools and practices such as brain breaks provide refreshing resources to promote self-care within the classroom.
Research has shown that exercise has a positive impact on academic performance. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that students who participated in regular physical activity had better academic outcomes, including improved grades and test scores. Additionally, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that regular physical activity can lead to improved cognitive function and increased attention and focus, which can benefit students in the classroom.
Here are five suggestions to incorporate brain breaks and mindfulness in the classroom and beyond.
- Tense & Release
Encourage students to tense a specific muscle, or group of muscles, and then release the tension. This can be accompanied by deep breathing or visualization exercises to help alleviate stress and anxiety, encourage relaxation and body awareness, and promote mental stability.
- Words of Affirmation
Starting the day with words of affirmation can be encouraging and uplifting to students. This is a practice with positive statements that can be as basic as “I am calm” or as specific as “I will pass this test.” Words of affirmation can help boost self-esteem, encourage positive self-talk and counteract negative feelings.
- Calm Coloring
Did you know that Hiveclass provides calming coloring pages that you can print and distribute? This activity, also known as art therapy, is extremely beneficial and can promote relaxation, improve focus and enhance mindfulness. Kids can use this time as a creative outlet as well as a simple yet effective way to promote mental health and well-being.
- Increase Heart Rate
When your heart rate goes up it increases blood flow and brings more oxygen and nutrients to your brain, which in turn improves cognitive function. Choose five simple exercises that students can do indoors or outdoors and get their heart rate up before they settle down to take their exams. Some examples can be jumping jacks, high knees, marching in place or a yoga pose like Warrior 1 or Warrior 2. Encourage students to perform each exercise for one minute – when done they’ll be ready to take on the day!
- Set an Intention
Setting intentions is a mindfulness tool that promotes self-awareness, increases motivation and focus and enhances positive thinking. Start off the day with a mindfulness video and encourage students to practice setting an intention for the day. Some examples of intentions during test taking season include:
- “I am present during this test and trust in myself, my knowledge and abilities.”
- “I will remain calm and composed during this exam, even when it is challenging.”
- “I trust that I am capable of overcoming any obstacles or challenges that arise during my day.”
These brain breaks can be introduced in physical education programs, history, English, math, art, dance classes and more! Additionally, the same techniques can be used in a public library to host mindfulness walks and workshops, homework help, creative programming for kids and young adults and other community members.
All in all, the end of the school year is a rollercoaster of emotions for both students and teachers. When mental health and wellness is a priority, students will not only feel supported and confident in their abilities, but this will lead to better academic performance and overall success. Better PE is a standards-based physical education curriculum, but Hiveclass also offers SEL resources and more to support the Whole Child approach to education. To learn more about Hiveclass features and activities, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team – we’d love to show you more and provide real-world applications of the platform.