Yoga mats, skipping ropes and basketballs sound like something you might find in a gymnasium, but in the Branksome Hall Middle School they are turning up in classes -- from English to Science. It's all part of an initiative to encourage wellness breaks during lessons. And students are loving it!
"This is our third year," says Siamak Boroomand, Interim Assistant Head, Senior and Middle School. "In the beginning it was a trial, but now we're seeing wellness breaks in all our Middle School classrooms."
Halfway through a typical class, students will be given a three to five minute break, Mr. Boroomand explains. "We want everyone to step away from their desks and move around."
Some classes have dance breaks, some yoga, and some simply encourage students to go out into the lounge and toss a ball around with friends. "We find that those few extra minutes allow students to be more alert in the second half of classes," he says.
"It's a great opportunity to relax and decompress, get their blood moving," adds a teacher whose class arrives to join in today's activities.
Mr. Boroomand feels strongly about wellness, and finding ways to help students to learn to relax. "Our students want to do their best, but we believe that a student doesn't have to go at 110% all the time to achieve this," he says. "In the Middle School, I have streamed calming videos on the monitors. Sometimes it will be a cloud video, sometimes it'll be a rain video. Students appear to enjoy them."
Whether it's the Middle School playground, intramurals, or Fit Friday, where staff and students take part in a 30-minute activity, wellness is a key component to life at Branksome Hall.
A group of Grade 7s enter the lounge and begin passing a basketball back and forth. "These breaks give us some time to reflect about what we learned in class," says a Grade 8. "We really enjoy them."
"They also let us see friends from other classes and learn about what they're doing," adds another student.
A few minutes later the students are called back for the second half of class. "Taking a short period of time makes you more effective in the future," adds Mr. Boroomand. "I believe that's what these breaks are beginning to show us."