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Give Distraction Breaks


Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy



Give Distraction Breaks

If your student's anxiety is interfering with his ability to complete classwork efficiently

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students with anxiety will benefit from regularly scheduled breaks that include structured, goal-oriented activities to help them relax while avoiding negative thinking.
  2. Teacher Takeaways: Identify one or more motivating, simple activities that your student enjoys that also require thinking or reaching a low-stakes goal, e.g. sudoku, crossword puzzle, word search. When it is time for your student to take his regularly scheduled break, have him choose from those activities and engage with it for a set period, such as a certain number of puzzles, a time limit, etc. Help your student get back to work efficiently after the set time is up, without procrastinating.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Breaks are intended to give students a chance to refresh their minds so they can get back to work efficiently after the break is over. Very anxious students, if not given a structured activity, might wander into negative thoughts which will leave them more distracted rather than refreshed from their break. Open-ended activities such as drawing or getting a glass of water can be great break activities for students without anxiety, however, students with anxiety often find their minds wander to negative thoughts if they do not have an activity that fully occupies their thought processes.