Have you ever found your child dozing off in the middle of an English lesson? Or noticed their attention drifting even if they weren't sleepy or tired?
In this blog post, we’ll explain why this happens and suggest ways to get your little one(s) “back on track” when it does. As a bonus, many of these activities use English, so your child can practice the global language during downtime without even knowing.
Brain Breaks - What Are They?
As the brain works hard to process and store information, it’s easy for the learner to lose focus as early as 20-30 minutes into their self-study session or class. For example, a study conducted on adults found that performance on a task dropped steadily over the course of 20 minutes, as did blood flow to the brain. So it should come as no surprise that kids would start losing focus way earlier.
Before this happens, it’s essential to take a quick break — a brain break. The ideal length of a break depends on your child’s age:
- If your kid is under 11-12 years old, they should at least take a three-minute break after 20 minutes of studying.
- If they’re 12 or older, they should take a break of at least five minutes after 30 minutes of study.
Multiple studies have shown that the benefits of brain breaks are endless. They boost physical fitness, improve mental health, develop creativity, and increase productivity at school.
To make these breaks even more meaningful, you can incorporate English into the activities you choose. We’ll share some you can do with children and teenagers below.
What Can I do for My Child?
Before deciding on a brain break, consider your child’s mood and personality. If your son or daughter is usually energetic and unable to sit still, try calming them down with some of the following activities:
- Yoga for kids: Simple poses and stretches, breathing exercises, and meditation can ease your child into their studies. They’ll also improve balance and flexibility while combatting hyperactivity. Here are some great yoga videos in English to get you started.
- Taking a walk: If the weather is nice, take a short walk. Studies show that walking can help clear children’s minds, allowing them to concentrate better and improve academic performance.
- Pet time: If you have a pet, encourage your child to play with them during breaks. Studies show that contact with pets can help children calm down.
- Creative activities: Have your child do some simple arts and crafts, like folding an origami bird or coloring a page in their coloring book. Or if they like legos, have them build something. To make sure they don’t get carried away, frame the activity as a challenge (e.g. “Let’s see who can fold a bird faster!”).
If your child’s energy level is low and they keep dozing off, we suggest doing brain breaks that will get them to actively move around. You can try any of the following:
- Play some fun English songs and dance along, doing funny gestures.
- Play Simon Says: “Simon saaays …bring me an apple!”
- Play a short game of charades with them, using English words they know.
- Play a game such as hide-and-seek, tag, or “hot or cold”.
What Can I do for (or with!) My Teenage Son/Daughter?
For teenagers and preadolescents, you’ll need age-appropriate activities, such as:
- Laughing together: Watch a Try not to laugh challenge together, or check out funny memes. Many of those are in English, and chances are, your teenager will already be familiar with some and can explain them to you.
- Video-games: If they like video games, suggest they play short rounds of tetris or hidden objects games. There are many English websites where you can find games like these.
- Cooking: Make easy desserts together, such as this speedy banana ice cream. They often require preparation in advance, but the actual cooking takes just a few minutes. There are many recipe videos in English, so your child can practice their listening skills. You can also help them reinforce new vocabulary while cooking (for example, “Pass me the butter”)
- Videos: Let them watch informative videos such as “How bubblegum is made” or anything they might be interested in. Check out our blog post for more listening activities.
- Dancing: If both you and your children are into music and dancing, have a dance-off like nobody's watching.
Depending on your child’s interests, you can have them work on more creative activities, such as doodling. They might also enjoy writing in English as a brain break if you provide some fun prompts like a bucket list of things to do this summer or top three birthday presents they would like to receive.
A Final Piece of Advice
Whatever your child does during their brain breaks, it’s important they stay hydrated and active.
A final brain break idea is to let your child chat with an online tutor who shares their interests. At Engoo, we have tutors who like painting, dancing, basketball, and anything else your child might be interested in. That way, they can practice English conversation in a fun way.
Besides, our online classes are 25 minutes long, which means your kids could have a study session AND a brain break! Try a free lesson and see how it goes!