The Benets of Brain Breaks
Students feel they belong in school when teachers express involvement and warmth and using humour can be an
eective way to facilitate this.
A number of our brain breaks utilise aliative humour, which involves joking around and laughing with others or
telling amusing stories in an eort to enhance relationships. This form of humour is positively correlated with high
self-esteem, cheerfulness and psychological wellbeing, and negatively correlated with anxiety and depression.
Using humour in the classroom is an important way to produce a healthy classroom climate and to help teachers
to connect with their students, which is essential for student learning and enjoyment. As such, the use of humour
in educational settings can also be an eective classroom management tool, fostering student engagement,
improving motivation, and encouraging on-task behaviours and academic success.
Our ability to think is highly dependent on our emotional state. This means eliciting positive emotions through
enjoyable activities, games and humour can have a positive impact on student learning. In addition, humour helps
teachers to deal with the inherent stressors of the profession.
Research in the eld of psychology suggests that, for many adolescents, humour can serve as a coping style or a
defence strategy to ease psychological distress and improve wellbeing. Therefore, using humour in the classroom
as a coping mechanism may help students to handle feelings of stress. In addition, humour has been shown to
have a measurable positive impact on one’s physical health.
We hope that the following ideas support your use of brain breaks while teaching remotely. For additional brain
breaks resources, please see our online shop and our PEEC website.
Baumeister, R.F. & Vohs, K.D. (2011). Handbook of self-regulation: Research, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford Press.
Beard, C. & Wilson, J. P. (2013). The Power of Experiential Learning: A Handbook for Education, Training and Coaching (3rd ed.). London: Kogan Page.
Berk, R. A. (2002). Humor as an instructional debrillator: Evidence-based techniques in teaching and assessment. Sterling, Va: Stylus.
Brunzell, T. Stokes, H. & Waters, L. (2016). Trauma-Informed Positive Education: Using Positive Psychology to Strengthen Vulnerable Students. Contemporary School Psychology, 20(1), 63–83.
Erickson, S. J. & Feldstein, S. W. (2007). Adolescent humour and its relationship to coping, defence strategies, psychological distress, and well-being. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 37(3), 255-271.
Frenzel, A. C., Becker-Kurz, B., Pekrun, R., Goetz, T. & Lüdtke, O. (2018). Emotion transmission in the classroom revisited: A reciprocal eects model of teacher and student enjoyment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 110(5),
Hamre, B.K. & Pianta, R.C. (2006). Student-teacher relationships. In G.C. Bear & K.M. Mink (Eds.), Children’s needs III: Development, prevention, and intervention (pp. 59-71). Washington D.C.: National Association of School
Hamre, B.K. & Pianta, R.C. (2001). Early teacher-child relationships and the trajectory of children’s school outcomes through eighth grade. Child Development, 72, 625-638.
Hamre, B.K., & Pianta, R.C. (2010). Classroom environments and developmental processes: conceptualization, measurement, & improvement. In J.L. Meece, J.S. Eccles (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling and
Human Development. Routledge: New York.
Harlin, R. P. (2008). What do you really know about learning and development? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 23(1), 125-134.
Hattie J. (2009). Visible Learning: A synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analysis Relating to Achievement. Routledge: London, UK.
Jennings, P.A. & Greenberg, M.T. (2009). The prosocial classroom: teacher social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), pp. 491-525.
Jensen, E. (2008). Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching. Corwin Press: Thousand Oaks, CA.
Lovorn, M. (2009). Three easy ways to bring humour into the social studies classroom. The Leader, 23(1), 15–16, 20–21.
Martin R.A., Puhlik-Doris P., Larsen W., Gray J., Weir K. (2003). Individual dierences in uses of humor and their relation to psychological well-being; development of the Humor Styles Questionnaire. Journal of Research in
Personality, 37, 48–75.
Payne Bennett, M. & Lengacher, C. (2008). Humour and laughter may inuence health: III. Laughter and health outcomes. eCAM, 5(1), 37–40.
Posnick-Goodwin, S. (2009). Laughter makes you smarter. California Educator, 13(4), 16–20.
Ratey, J.J. (2008). Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. New York: Little Brown.
Savage, B.M., Lujan, H.L., Thipparthi, R.R. & DiCarlo, S.E. (2017). Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review. Advances in Physiology Education, 41(3), 341-347.
Skinner, M.E. & Fowler, R.E. (2010). ALL JOKING ASIDE: Five Reasons to Use Humor in the Classroom. Education Digest, 76(2), 19-21.
Trost, S.G. (2007). Active education: Physical education, physical activity and academic performance. Active Living Research, Fall.