How to Help Your Kids (and You!) Survive the Online School Day

For many of us the school year started remotely, pushing kids’ screen time through the roof. Like many adults know, sitting at a desk looking at a computer or tablet all day can be tedious and tiresome for even the most simplistic tasks. As students learn and work on challenging and new concepts, we can expect moments of frustration to occur. Before a laptop (or something else) hits the fan, consider using brain breaks to relieve some of the stress.

Taking mental breaks periodically throughout the day can actually increase focus and assist in memory retention. Incorporating the following simple and short activities into the online school day (at appropriate times during the day’s schedule) may prevent frustration and burn out for kids. And they work for adults, too! 

Get Moving with a Randomized Exercise Jar

A Random Exercise Jar encourages movement and exercise throughout the day – something that can really increase focus. The gist is this: fill up a jar (or something similar) with slips of paper that have simple exercises on them. When you pull out a slip, you have to complete the exercise listed! It may help to have set times during the day when everyone selects their random exercise from the box. Here are some pre-made slips to help you get started

Expand on this idea by creating multiple boxes with different themes, such as a box with yoga poses (check out this free printable here from WY Quality Counts) or inspirational quotes for reflection and encouragement. Maybe you’ll end up having a different box for each day!

Build Confidence with Affirmations

A positive affirmation is a self-empowering statement that can relieve stress. What better way to break up the day than to jumpstart your brain with a positive attitude?

So how can affirmations be used as brain breaks? Here are a few ideas:

My toddler really enjoyed running on these “stepping stones.”
    • Hopscotch or a paper path: After creating your affirmation, use the words to create a paper path to the learning area in your home. When it is time for a break, encourage your kid to walk on the “stepping stones” and shout each word out loud.
    • High five: Have your child write their affirmation on this printable. After saying their affirmation out loud, they can give themselves a high five! Place on a mirror, or, make a high five wall, and put one word on each page. As your child says each word, they slap the hands! Perfect for transitioning between tasks.
    • Coloring pages: Coloring is relaxing and fun, which is the perfect brain break. Use these coloring sheets, or create your own!

Give Your Kids Control with a TIC TAC TOE Brain Break Board

Using a Tic-tac-toe board allows your child to have choice in how they spend their breaks. When they need to step back and take a breather, they can choose from the board which activity they would like to do, with the goal being they complete three of the activities in a horizontal, diagonal, or vertical line by the end of the day. If you don’t want to place limits on the board, it could be presented as a “menu” instead, and kids can choose whichever activities they like best. 

Use this printable for your tic-tac-toe board!

Or Just Keep it Simple…

I know the ideas above require some planning, so remember, a brain break can be as simple as walking outside or stretching. The point is, sometimes we all just need a mental reset and time away from our screens. 

What other ideas do you have for surviving virtual school days? Let me know in the comments!

Drawn by family connections, hill country living, and the friendly culture, Lauren and her family moved to San Antonio in 2017 from Houston, Texas. This Texas Aggie (whoop!) is passionate about kids, learning, and quality instruction. After teaching middle school history for several years, she most recently worked as an instructional coach for social studies teachers all over the San Antonio area. When her daughter made her debut in 2018, Lauren decided to pause her career and become a stay-at-home mom. Now a mom of two littles, she spends most of her time feeding her newborn and preventing her toddler from jumping off the couch. It is her most rewarding job yet. When she finds a minute to herself, she enjoys reading, hiking, and photography.