Thanks to distance learning, many of us are in the recess-at-home boat, trying to balance our children's needs to move around and get loud with the requirements that they participate in a screen-based learning experience. Here are 15 ideas for planning your child's short recess breaks during the day.
Our sponsor, Kids Gym Berkeley, was founded by Barbara Brodrick, a mom who has navigated many learning options for her son, with a focus on his special needs. She has shared ideas for at-home recess with us here and also invites 510Families.com readers to learn more about supervised remote learning at Kids Gym Berkeley, where kids have access to a variety of interesting and challenging materials during their body breaks.
Build Incentives Throughout The Day
Barbara recommends using a visual schedule board. “I always have Grant collaborate with me on what we are going to do first and ask him what he wants to earn at the end of the session.”
Tactics that work for Barbara and her fourth-grader to smooth out learning:
- Creating a star system or rewards chart with incentives chosen by my child
- Ignoring and not reacting to attention-seeking behavior
- Providing multiple breaks in between non-preferred activities
- Remembering there will always be good and bad days for all kids and adults and remembering to be kinder to myself when meltdowns happen
“After spending the past few weeks supervising learners, I have observed that these tricks work with all kids, typically developing or not,” says Barbara.
Barbara shared that Grant hates handwriting. “For sessions like that, I ask him what he wants to do during his two, three, or five-minute break. He usually tells me ‘I want to play Nintendo Switch during my break' or ‘Jump in the trampoline'. So, after he writes and spells twenty words, then I grant him however many minutes we negotiated in the beginning.”
Ideas for physical activities for short breaks
Parents can offer body breaks with a session of jumping jacks or access to a mini-trampoline. A prepared environment that provides an obstacle course, jump rope, or a queued up exercise video (Barbara recommends Cosmic Kids yoga app with some classes as short as 10 minutes) for recess time, will provide an incentive for finishing a period of focus.
Materials for full-body recess activities indoors
We asked Barbara what she would invest in for home use. Based on kid favorites at Kids Gym Berkeley, she recommends:
- Hammock swing
- Mini trampoline for limited space and cost-efficiency
- Jump rope
- Peanut ball
- Family dance sessions
- Agility ladder (can be used indoors or outside)
- Any home exercise equipment such as a stationary bike
Toys and tools for unwinding your mind
- Remote control car like this one or this one; Barbara swears by these high-quality cars for lots of reuse
- Mini foosball; Kids Gym Berkeley has a regulation size table for blowing off steam between classes
- Open-ended building blocks like those made by Kapla or Keva
- Inflate a balloon and keep it in the air as long as possible
Activities for full-body recess activities outdoors
- Family hike or run
- Use a paintbrush and a bucket of water (just water!) to “paint” the fence, sidewalk, or side of the house
- Play a H-O-R-S-E-style competition with an improvised target if you don't have access to a basketball hoop.
- Bicycle or scooter ride
- Mark off distances with painter's tape or chalk to measure challenges such as a standing long jump
- Climb trees
- Deliver a drawing, card, or treat to a neighbor as fast as you can
- Set up targets for beanbag tossing. Use rolled-up adult socks if you don't have bean bags.
- Practice handstands against a wall
- Spray bottle the cement before drawing with chalk for a brighter look
Thanks to Kids Gym Berkeley for sponsoring this post. Learn more about their current programs, designed to support families with remote learners.