Five Brain Break Strategies to Help Children Focus as the School Year Ramps Up

By Dr. Emiliya Adelson, PhD

Whether it’s virtually or in person, the school year is underway! Brain breaks are a key, research-backed method to keep children attentive, productive, motivated, and stress-free. Brain breaks are short, scheduled breaks that help brains shift focus before fatigue, distraction, or frustration set in.

For elementary schoolers, a three-to-five-minute brain break after fifteen minutes of work can do wonders for focus and morale. Middle-schoolers and high schoolers can work for up to 20 to 30 minutes before a brain break.

From the classroom to the kitchen, these five brains break strategies will reset energy levels while improving mood, memory, and motivation.

  1. Physical Brain BreaksResearch shows that children learn more quickly after exercise. Get the blood pumping by practicing yoga poses, jumping jacks, wall-pushups, running in place, stretching, or dancing. Games like Freeze Dance, Simon Says, and Red-Light Green-Light are great to get younger children moving for a few minutes.
  2. Mindful Brain BreaksRelaxing and quiet brain breaks focusing on breath and awareness are excellent for a calming recharge. Guided meditation exercises, progressive muscle relaxations, and deep breathing videos can be found easily online and can create a mini vacation for the brain. A mindful walk, a snack-break mindfully engaging all five senses, or a few minutes to sit in peaceful stillness are other excellent options.
  3. Music Brain BreaksListening to a favorite song or relaxing music refreshes the brain in between tasks. For younger children, sing songs together such as “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to combine music and movement.
  4. Laughter Brain Breaks Reading from a joke book, watching a funny video clip, or spending a few minutes sharing riddles with friends or family allows for a stress-relieving brain break.
  5. Creative Brain Breaks- Creative brain breaks include: doodling in one’s notebook, coloring in a mandala coloring page or favorite coloring book, or acting out favorite movie or show characters.

Set the timer for five minutes and empower your children or students to practice brain breaks starting today! Better yet, try them with your children. They work for adults, too!


Dr. Emiliya Adelson is a licensed child psychologist and school psychologist who specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents who struggle with life transitions, anger, anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, identity issues, mood dysregulation, posttraumatic stress disorder, and self-esteem issues. Dr. Adelson conducts psychological and psychoeducational evaluations as well as parent coaching and behavioral/academic consultation. She enjoys collaborating with parents and assisting in fostering supportive and loving relationships as well as supporting families in helping children reach their potential. Dr. Adelson joined Peachtree Psychiatric Professionals in the summer of 2020 and is currently accepting new clients. She is looking forward to leading Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy groups for 7-12 year olds with ADHD starting in October 2020.