Regular breaks are a part of any good school day. However, while some children seem to take advantage of this process by taking bathroom breaks every half hour or suddenly complaining of aches and pains that necessitate a trip to the school nurse during the hardest subject of the day, others seem to shrink within themselves, almost never leaving the classroom. The questions parents and teachers of special needs students must ask are what type of breaks these students need and how the breaks should be designed.
Breaks are important for all students. Not only do they help to break up classroom time, but also they give growing brains a chance to learn and develop in new ways while taking a break from difficult tasks. Breaks can be even more important for special education students who may struggle to focus or to control their physical or emotional impulses. By providing a break, parents or teachers can help these children regain control of themselves and can show them that school is not just a place for negative or unwanted behaviors.
One good option that schools can implement is the break card system for directed or student-led breaks. In this model, the child can choose when to use the provided break card. They may want to use it when they are feeling particularly frustrated or volatile, or they may want to use it when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Each break should last for a prescribed number of minutes. This should be enough time to let the child walk away and regain a sense of calm and equilibrium. Plus, this method teaches children how to take responsibility for their own emotions and for the management of them.