Brain breaks stimulate learning and classroom instruction

Special to Leader-Press

Recent research shows that our brains aren’t idle when we take breaks—they’re hard at work processing memories and helping us make sense of what we experience. Teachers have learned that “brain breaks,” or short breaks in between rigorous learning lessons, are helping not only their students excel in the classroom but helping them as the instructors as well. 
Copperas Cove Junior High and S. C. Lee Junior High implemented a pilot program of “brain breaks” that worked so well last school that they are being implemented again this year. 
During Bullpup Hour or Cougar Hour, students get an hour brain break to pick a club of their choice. There are more than 60 clubs on each campus from which to choose and students are able to sign up a week prior for their choice. Each club lasts from 30 minutes to one hour and range from nerf gun war to siesta club. All staff members are present during the breaks either hosting a club or monitoring the hallways.
CCJHS school secretary Vanessa Weaver started a scrapbooking club that she teaches each week.
“Not only does Bullpup Hour help the kids with brain breaks, but it also helps the staff with a mental break as well. Staff members are encouraged to create a club of their own interest and host it. Staff members that host clubs have a passion for their club, so it doesn’t just feel like work. It feels like a hobby.” Weaver said. “Last year, I had a great group of girls that came to my club every week. We turn on the music, do a little scrapbooking and then at the end, they want to dance. It’s a lot of fun and helps boost morale at the school to see everyone doing something they enjoy with the kids.”
Students’ cognitive abilities strengthen as they form mental pictures, make quick decisions, or follow motion or word patterns. Every brain break involves movement, which stimulates brain cells in ways that further promote learning. Movement also helps students release excess energy and ease physical tension.  
CCJHS student Brooklyn Bryant said she loved Bullpup Hour last year because she could be with friends that she didn’t have classes with.
“I signed up for the archery club every week because I wanted to practice since I was on the archery team at CCJHS,” Bryant said. 
CCJHS art teacher Jordan Love said the brain break allows students to take positive risks as they learn, so you’ll likely see them start to take more academic risks, too.
“It’s such a beneficial time period secured in our day to gather students who have earned the privilege through hard work and through their classes to give them the opportunity to explore advance methods of artistic expression,” Love said.

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