Educationists explain this is important especially in the current scenario as pupils spend hours glued to their computer screens.
Brief breaks are integral to learning and schools in the UAE are realising this like never before, as they find new ways to ‘press the pause’ to help students relax and reboot themselves between online classes.
Educationists explain this is important especially in the current scenario as pupils spend hours glued to their computer screens with everyone pivoting towards online learning. Experts believe that not taking regular breaks can lead to a marked decrease in academic performance and in some cases, serious health concerns like anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Pramod Mahajan, principal of Sharjah Indian School, said: “The 20-20-20 rule is a scientifically approved approach that has three pronged benefits. It helps deal with three types of fatigue. it assists in relaxing the brain, it reduces strain on the eyes and aids in reducing pressure on the veins allowing better blood circulation in the body. So after every 20 minutes, we encourage our students to take a 20 seconds break by walking 20 feet. The same will be implemented as 40-40-40 when students return for onsite learning.”
The school has installed sanitising dispensers at specific distances allowing children to take 40 steps after every 40 minutes.
“Even rubbing the hand with the sanitiser for 40 seconds has the effect of a massage and acupuncture. This break time rule is based on a paper that was read out in Cambridge. It helps children to disconnect with the current thought process and resume with rejuvenated energy”, added Mahajan.
Brain exercises, laughter therapy
While schools reinvent the idea of ‘recess’, the aim is to give children some time away from their devices. Quick yoga sessions and stretching exercises gives everyone a chance to take a few breathers.
Arogya Reddy, principal of Ambassador School Sharjah, pointed out: “We have introduced the concept of the ‘Brain Gym’ to our students, engaging them in fine motor and gross motor skill development. Students do stretch exercises, bending, rotating their shoulders and twisting of fingers. Apart from this, we also have break out room, where children collaborate in smaller divisions virtually, to discuss an issue and then return to the main group.”
He added: “We also have laughter therapy sessions for both teachers and students. There are different kinds of laughter like the Ladoo laughter where the cheeks bulge out and lips are tightly sealed. Chuckling laughter where there is no sound and only the teeth are visible. Then, ‘Boisterous Laughter’ where children laugh out loud.”
In some schools, icebreaker activities vary on a daily basis helping pupils get some energy out, reduce frustration and increase focus and attention.
Sangita Chima, principal of Amity School Dubai, said: “Older students create spontaneous activities like dance bursts and flash mobs, keeping a two-metre distance between every student. Our games teacher organises mindfulness breathing exercises, yoga, stretches and energisers following the physical distancing norms. A ‘brain break magic pot’ of ideas for fun activities is also used to keep students busy during short breaks.”
Therefore, schools encourage children to move around and get physically active during wellness breaks which are put in place after every period.
Annie Mathew, principal of Gulf Model School, underlined: “Students are motivated to take part in off screen wellbeing activities which specially focus on screen detox and mindfulness during break time. Exercise for the hand focusing on fingers and wrist are carried out during breaks. Children are also encouraged to do regular eye exercises.”
Breaks help students stay focused
>A few moments of exercise can reset their attention if students are getting bored
>Brain breaks – short activities that stimulate curiosity can help improve the mood
>Set aside time in the class for creativity to help boost kids’ imaginations
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