Did you know taking frequent study breaks, rather than cramming for long periods, may be an effective learning strategy for students? According to a recent study, those who take frequent breaks from learning actually remember 20 percent to 23 percent more than their cramming counterparts.

This concept, termed spaced learning, operates on the basis that memory-creating neurons need time to rest in order to embed what’s learned into long-term memory. Learn more about spaced learning as well as meaningful ways to break from learning, here.

How spaced learning works

A Forbes® article on the topic describes spaced learning as ”short bursts of intensive learning, punctuated by ‘breaks’ lasting 10 minutes each where [students] complete unrelated tasks.” Learning sessions should be no more than15 to 20 consecutive minutes after which a break occurs. During the break in activity, a completely unrelated task is performed—this is when the brain works to commit learned activities into long-term memory. Try these spaced learning activities to make spaced learning work for your classroom.

  • Get moving: Short, energizing busts of activity have a dual effect on learning. Not only can the break commit knowledge to long-term memory, it can boost blood flow, send oxygen to the brain and increase energy. Stretch, toss a ball around, take a walk, run in place or participate in a 10-minute yoga video. A simple YouTube® search will reveal countless options.
  • Play a game: Short games that can be played in a group are great break activities. For younger audiences, consider hot potato, Simon says or telephone. More mature students may enjoy hangman, charades or guess that drawing. Rewards can make games even more fun—for instance mood erasers, temporary tattoos or gadget dots.
  • Watch a video: There are several video channels geared towards students of all ages. Try GoNoodle®, The Brain Scoop® or SoulPancakeSM. Or, allow learners to choose—consider rewarding good behaviour, acts of kindness or improvements to test scores with an entry into a draw to choose the video of the day.
  • Do an art project: Art projects unrelated to your lesson such as drawing, tracing a picture, colouring or shaping clay provide a nice break in activity. Provide plenty of paper, crayons and colouring books; then watch the memory at work!

Remember, with spaced learning comes a world of opportunity to learn, retain and hopefully get the most out of your lesson. Give it a try, watch and see!

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