Brain breaks in elementary schools: A self-regulation intervention program
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It is well-established in research that childhood is a critical stage of development when students are susceptible to anxiety symptoms and the onset of anxiety disorders, due to the neuroplasticity of the brain from the ages of 5 to 13 years old. This is concerning to educational staff in elementary schools because of the negative effects anxiety symptoms have on children’s learning processes, on their feelings of self-efficacy in coping with anxiety and on their well-being. Common strategies in education to intervene and foster optimal learning for children with anxiety have been through physical movement, relaxation or games-oriented brain breaks, but there have not been ones that combine mindfulness, breathing exercises, stretching and physical movement. The commonly used term ‘brain breaks’ in the proposed intervention merges mindfulness with physical movement and is referred to as mindful movement (MM), with yoga-like stretching and breathing exercises that follow, all with explicit self-regulation instruction. To a new and greater extent, this structured intervention, rooted in research and referred to as brain breaks, is designed to promote self-regulation skills for children to cope with their anxiety symptoms through a complete mindfulness strategy. The goal of this is to foster optimal learning, coping strategies and well-being for elementary children, regardless of the nature of individual anxiety symptoms.