How to Use a Break Card in Your Classroom

Jun 7th 2022

A simple technique you can use with your students is a Break card. When a student begins feeling stressed or overwhelmed they can use a break card to remove themselves from the situation. This empowers students by providing them with a strategy they can use to proactively manage their stress.

This strategy works well in social situations because it's discreet. When your students hands you the card you know exactly what they are going to do. For this strategy to work well both the student and the teacher need to establish the rules of the take a break card.

Rules that need to be established include:

  • Where the student will go during the break. Some common break areas include the library, computer room, or a calming corner of the classroom. Also make sure they know who they need to check in with when they arrive.
  • How long the break can last. Will it be a five minute break or a break until the activity is over?
  • What the student has access to during the break. Can they put on some headphones and listen to music, put on a weighted blanket, or grab a stress ball from the fidget box?

For students who need a little more support you can also incorporate a calming choice chart so that your students have specific calm choices they can make during their break time. Calming choices can include things like wall push ups, taking some deep breaths, reading a book, getting a drink, or wearing headphones.

A few more tips to help:

  • Like all stress management tools it is important to practice using the take a break card ahead of time.
  • Practice your calming activities before your student is stressed.
  • Remember that your students will need more break time as the level of stress increases.
  • Sensory rooms are good places for students with sensory integration challenges to go during break time.
  • Different levels of stress often require different calming strategies. For example, physical exercise is often helpful in high stress situations.