In our culture, we seem to reward and admire those who put in long, hard hours at work. Even school districts have succumb to the notion that longer school days and less recess will improve student performance.
But scientifically that doesn’t make sense. When you are truly working hard, your brain needs a break.
The brain represents 2% of the body’s weight, but requires almost 25% of its oxygen.
If you don’t take the time to recover, it leads to more mistakes, poor judgement, lower, creativity and fatigue.
When people are asked, “Where do you get your best ideas?” the answer is rarely – at my desk hard at work! How would you answer that question? Here are some of the most common answers:
- in the shower
- walking outside
- resting in bed
- listening to music
The brain needs time to process and to make connections. More work and longer hours doesn’t mean more productivity and creativity.
Leonardo da Vinci was known for taking regular breaks from his work. In fact, when da Vinci was working on the Last Supper, he often took long mid-afternoon breaks. He told his patron:
“The great geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.”
- Send your kids outside to play.
- Bring in educational games like 10 Days Across Europe or the Settlers of Catan.
- Do math outside… make it like a game!
- Incorporate some critical thinking activities into your day.
- Go for a walk out in nature together.
- Actually STOP for lunch! Leave the schoolwork behind! (Don’t do regular “working” lunches.) – Confession time… We are totally guilty here! We often read while eating, but will definitely think about this more!
Da Vinci went on to say:
“It is a very good plan every now and then to go away and have a little relaxation… When you come back to the work your judgement will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose the power of judgement.”
And, if you can make those breaks physical… all the better since even moderate physical exercise can increase cognitive capacity.
So, what were the three reasons why breaks are good? They keep you fresh. They help with your creativity. They allow your brain time to process and make connections.
On that same vein, it’s important to take longer breaks as well. These longer unscheduled periods give kids freedom and allow them longer time periods to explore, be creative and use their imagination. They allow everyone to unwind and relax from the normal routine. For Mom, they allow time to catch up on chores (or tackle things that get pushed off til “later”) and to spend time looking at the bigger picture of homeschooling. These breaks can really give us a better perspective about how things are going and can allow us much needed time to set goals and plan. You might be interested in this I wrote a while back with 10 Reasons Why Time Off is Important!!
Speaking of breaks and taking time off, here are some similar posts that might be of interest:
- Get the Most From Your Holiday Break
- My Three Rs — Re-energizing, Relaxing, Re-Organizing
- Taking Care of Ourselves
- Mid-Semester Blues: Homeschool Motivation
- A Story of the Wise Teacher and the Student
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Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl