* Christopher and me: brain breaks

I’ve been asked how to keep a young’un attentive during summer tutoring, especially one with special needs.  My nephew, Christopher, is such a joy to teach, but he does get tired, off track, antsy, and frustrated at times.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he’s an ASD (A Sweet Dude) kiddo .  Here’s what I do:

  • Keep a visual schedule so he knows when we will take brain breaks.
  • Take a variety of brain breaks, including going outside for a few minutes to toss a minion (below) or to attempt hula hooping.
  • Encourage him to stand up as we work, if he looks fatigued.
  • Give him something to fidget with.
  • Keep the activities focused on his special interests.
  • Tally every off-task remark and praise him for the improvements he’s made as we work.  Many times, simply tallying or graphing is sufficient with kids.  No need for a reward, but…
  • Establish a small reward of his choice for each of our 3 major activities (thinking/language, writing, reading).  For example, he loves a sour small candy, so he’s gotten 3 miniature pieces after each session of working hard.  He DOES work hard all the time anyway, which I find very typical of kids on the autism spectrum.
  • Provide a larger reward for longer and more difficult assignments which may take a week to earn.  These are typically the “thinking” activities related to problem solving.
  • Stay playful.  We DO get off track and although I sneak in some language work as we banter, he needs to enjoy himself with those wild and crazy thoughts of blowing noses, beating Super Mario Bros, or endless discussions of “comic mischief.”

(Hover mouse to read captions.)

9 thoughts on “* Christopher and me: brain breaks

  1. Everybody needs brain breaks! Not only kids who find hard time concentrating. Perhaps, there’s this false believe that humans are supposed to pay attention and work endless hours without distraction. I don’t know what the people who can achieve this manage to do it. For me it’s not achievable at all. I need breaks, all sorts of breaks every 25 minutes (pomodoro Technique) I don’t work well if I don’t have my breaks. And still, I’m very good at my job and I get plenty of stuff done in those 25 minutes, things that other people lose hours doing so. The approach with your nephew is excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, it´s a simple technique using a kitchen timer like the tomato shaped one (Pomodoro) and setting it for 25 mins. You work hard during this period and when the alarm sounds you take your 5 min break. Then you come back and set your Pomodoro timer for 25 mins again to continue working. Between us, I actually don´t use the timer (it rings too loud for my taste and I feel my heart could pop out of my mouth at any time, but I set an alarm in my computer while working)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: * Christopher and me: medication for ADHD? | Teachezwell Blog

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