By Kim Norton
Often referred to as brain breaks or movement breaks, sensory breaks are movements that incorporate sensory activities to help our children calm down, focus, learn and self-regulate.
These movements unite the brain, body, and the senses, improving overall brain function in areas such as concentration, memory recall, reading and writing, organisation skills, physical coordination, and more. When you can access more areas of the brain, and use those areas more effectively, learning challenges and the stress and anxiety associated with them can disappear altogether, increasing confidence and self-esteem.
The type of sensory breaks that would best suit your child can be determined by an Occupational Therapist who will design a sensory diet to suit. This diet may include a variety of movement and sensory breaks that can be performed in each of the child’s environments. eg: school, at home and grandma’s etc. The type and frequency of breaks will depend on the individual’s sensory preferences.
Breaks and tools for the classroom to help with general learning can include:
- Fidget chair bands (Bouncy Bands)
- Sit on a wobble stool or cushion
- Use fidget toys
- Sit with a weighted lap pad
- Play games like “Duck Duck Go”
- Wear noise cancelling headphones
- Practise brain gym movements
- Do regular simple stretching exercises incorporating breath work
Examples of general sensory breaks can include:
- Use a battery-operated toothbrush
- Practise breath work
- Play with playdough/theraputty
- Make a calm-down bottle
- Suck on a lollipop
- Jump on a trampoline
- Blow on a party blower
- Throw a ball
- Climb a tree
- Go for a bike ride
- Blow bubbles
- Go for a walk/run
- Yoga moves
- Chew gum
- Listen to music
- Blow up a balloon
- Lift light weights
- Use a straw
- Go swimming
- Play “Simon Says”
- Do push ups
- Go barefoot in the grass/dirt
- Punch a punching bag or pillow
- Crawl through homemade tunnels
- Jump into a body sock
- Swing on a sensory swing
- Bear hugs with Mum or Dad
- Wheelbarrow walking
- Squeeze a stress ball
- Use a skipping rope
If you think your child would benefit from having a personalised sensory diet written for them, please seek the services of an Occupational Therapist who will assess your child and devise a diet to suit. Otherwise, simply adopt some of the activities listed above into your child’s daily routine, supporting their ability to self-regulate all their emotions including the stress and anxiety associated with any sensory struggles.
Kim is the founder of Rainbow Light Therapies and is a Holistic Counsellor specialising in stress and anxiety management for kids, teens, and adults.
Kim provides a unique, intuitive, and individualised therapy approach through individual, small group, and family counselling sessions both online and at her studio in Langwarrin. Also working with special needs kids, Kim runs sessions and workshops for people of all abilities on assorted topics throughout the year.