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5 Reasons Your Family Needs A Big Dry Erase Board

5 Reasons Your Family Needs A Big Dry Erase Board

Running a household with a family is serious business. It seems like a miracle that we can tie together all the loose ends from last week before we’re pulled into next Monday, yet all too often our ropes seem frayed. Instead of enjoying a relaxing weekend, we’re scrambling just to survive the week.

If this frantic race seems like your life, take heart; there is a simple way to streamline your family, save your sanity, and bring everyone to the same page. If you want a happier household with better communication and more quality time, buy a huge dry erase board.

Introducing an oversize dry erase board as a centerpiece for communication and family involvement is a smart investment for your money for these reasons:

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1. Chores will actually get done

Life before the big board is tough because everyone is scrambling through the week like chickens with their heads cut off. The list of little things that were overlooked tend to swamp moms and dads – and when momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. On the board, you can devote a square to the rotation of weekly chores, as well as odds and ends that need completion. Kiddos and spouses can check off jobs when they are accomplished. The board will also remind them of their responsibilities so you don’t have to nag them.

As a bonus, you can get your children involved in assigning weekly responsibilities so they can experience greater ownership in the household economy.

2. It will ease tension between you and your spouse

All of the little things that we expect our spouses to accomplish via ESP never quite seem to happen. When they don’t, it strains our relationships. Even the “honey-dos” that are communicated, often happen in passing, when we are least likely to remember. So, when your wife wants you to take the garbage to the trash, it’s a zillion times more likely to happen if you see a concrete representation of that request on your big board.

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Each member in your family has a different way of perceiving the world. For example, some are auditory learners, while others are visual. When you have additional methods of communicating, you’re more likely to achieve the end result you have in mind.

3. It will enhance appreciation and respect in your family

So many times, the things that are asked of a family member go unrecognized or without praise because people run in and out of the house so quickly. When you have a big board, you can leave little messages that show your appreciation for a job well done or a good deed – even if that family member isn’t home. When they come back to the board, they’ll see your note, and it will make all the difference in the world.

Family members who feel appreciated and needed will take ownership in family goals, and step up to greater responsibilities. If you want to prepare your children for taking on greater responsibilities and self sufficiency, the big board is a fun and interactive way to help them take pride in their contributions and responsibilities.

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4. It is a unique ritual that enhances your families identity

When your child’s friends come over and see this gigantic board by the kitchen with all colors of the rainbow artfully squiggled, your kids will tell them all about how you guys get stuff done with the board, how much fun it is, and why their family needs one too.

The big board actually represents something far deeper that what it appears. It represents a willingness to communicate and love each other better. Centering your family around that symbol and weaving your days and weeks on it will enhance the identity of your family.

The ritual of making plans, executing them, and showing appreciation on the big board will be something that uniquely characterizes your family’s love for each other. When your kids grow older, they’ll look back nostalgically on how much the big board meant to them, and how special it was. Then you can get one for your children’s and grandchildren’s houses.

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5. It will make long-term planning attractive for your children

All the fun and excitement surrounding interactions with the big board will program the idea that teamwork, sacrifice, and long-term planning are really good things. You can get creative with it too. If you feel one youngster has been going above and beyond in helping others and taking on additional responsibilities, you can clip little coupons that are good for one round of putt-putt golf, or go-karting, or pin tickets to a baseball or basketball game.

Physical representations, like pictures of privileges that your children want to earn, like learning how to drive, or going on a vacation to the Bahamas, can be posted on top of the board. This will help them keep focused on their goals and responsibilities.

The big board will help instill the lesson that privileges are earned with responsibility, and that the two go hand in hand. Tying those concepts together in a fun family ritual will be most instructive on your children’s future while helping you to accomplish the things that need to get done around the house.

Conclusion

Your family can use all the help it can get to function peaceably and efficiently. For something that costs $100 or less, a big board will pay out big dividends for your families happiness and cohesion in the short and long term.

Featured photo credit: Color markers/ Osseous via flickr.com

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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