Table of Contents
4 MIN. READ
Healthy vision among students is a top priority for teachers and a lofty, commendable goal. This blog explores the ease and benefits of incorporating eye breaks and visual exercises into your classroom routine. Implementing these techniques helps Oklahoma teachers alleviate eye strain, improve focus, and enhance overall student well-being.
Understanding the Importance of Eye Breaks and Visual Exercises
Regular eye breaks and low-impact visual exercises are the best ways to prevent asthenopia and lost eye muscle flexibility, which might be the two most severe effects of prolonged screen time on children.
Asthenopia is an overuse condition that results from extended use of the eyes during closed work and or the prolonged viewing of digital devices. The presence of asthenopia can be life-altering for students, especially in the short term. Symptoms include poor vision, fatigue, headaches, and loss of interest.
These symptoms seem insignificant. But imagine taking a test or finishing a project if you don’t see well or have a mild headache. Removing eye strain alleviates these symptoms, improving individual wellness and academic performance.
Reduced focus flexibility can also be a short-term problem related to overuse of the eyes at a near point. Fatigued eye muscles often don’t immediately adjust from close-up to distance vision in poor comprehension and the inability to copy notes from the blackboard easily.
Admittedly, breaks in the daily routine affect focus. Most children cannot immediately return to the task at hand. But the benefits of these breaks far outweigh the temporary costs. As outlined below, teachers can also minimize disruptions by weaving eye breaks and visual exercises into the everyday routine.
Practical Eye Break and Vision Activity Strategies
Many Oklahoma teachers use egg timers to signal eye break time. That’s the fun part. But filling that 20-second break time is challenging while managing a classroom. Children and teens are more likely to meaningfully participate in the eye break as an actual break instead of an additional chore, so look for fun ways to encourage participation.
Contests work well. Use challenges like finding a squirrel or bird outside or identifying a blue object at the front of the room. Or, tell children to close their eyes and take three deep breaths. That’s about twenty seconds.
Standing up from a desk once every twenty minutes is as important as an eye rest break. Sing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” and have the kids stand up or sit down whenever they hear a B word. This exercise is much more challenging than it seems.
The “My Bonnie” game is fun for children and teens. Simply standing and stretching have the same effect. Additionally, many yoga eye movement exercises are easily incorporated into the classroom routine.
Breaks and vision activity usually focus on the 20-20-20 rule. Once every twenty minutes, students should look at objects at least twenty feet away for at least twenty seconds. This rule appears disruptive. And it is disruptive if teachers don’t incorporate it into daily class routines. But if it’s part of the routine, it becomes closing a window on your browser or opening a book.
Manage your expectations, as well as caregiver expectations. Eye exercises don’t prevent the aforementioned vision conditions. But consistent breaks help prevent these problems.
Furthermore, remind children that eye health is not just a daytime thing. Encourage them to take eye strain breaks during evenings, weekends, and holidays and explain what’s at stake to older children who are likely to understand.
Effective Visual Exercises
Keep it simple. Eye health doesn’t have to be “rocket science” and doesn’t always involve visiting the eye doctor. Here’s a brief list of potential ideas to help:
Look at your screens, and now tell me how many fingers I’m holding up.
Place visual targets, such as pictures of people or objects, at various places on various classroom walls. Mix the target practice and change the images so children don’t repeatedly look at the same thing.
The follow-my-finger nystagmus exercise is an excellent way to determine if a child has a lazy eye or another latent eye condition. It’s also a perfect way to strengthen eye muscles.
Many inexpensive memory games are available at local retailers and online. Teachers may also ask caregivers to contribute a few dollars each to a game fund.
We mentioned locating objects outside or at a distance to strengthen eye muscles. Asking detailed questions about these objects (e.g., what color is the bird) improves cognitive and visual processing skills.
Integration and Implementation Tips
Embracing the disruption factor might be the key to overcoming teachers’ concerns about eye strain breaks. Teachers have a fantastic opportunity to seamlessly integrate these breaks into the daily routine, ensuring they become a natural part of the learning experience. And guess what? This routine sticks better when kids are outside of the classroom.
Bringing mindfulness and meditation into the equation allows students to rest their eyes while giving their minds a refreshing outdoor break. And when it comes to exercises, leaning into technology-based options is wise. After all, kids are comfortable with devices.
Remember, the power of these exercises during breaks lies in student engagement. You can create an atmosphere where everyone benefits by highlighting students enjoying themselves and gently nudging others to follow suit.
Incorporating eye breaks and visual exercises into your classroom routine can promote healthy vision habits and enhance students’ learning experience.
For more vision care tips, reach out to us now.