Teaching Break Time Skills

Categories: Interventions | Resources

We all need a break. Whether your break is some red wine and a DVR full of Bravo tv or some quality time with a slinky and an oversized therapy ball – a break is a break. However, some of our students really struggle to take a break. Unstructured time can equal over stimulation, behavior issues, and a whole mess of problems. But our whole day can’t be work bins and discrete trial. We need to teach our students how to take a break. And that requires the same strategies that we use to teach everything else!

Use visuals and teach your students how to use those visuals. Initially, provide frequent and consistent reinforcement for using the visuals. Each time they utilizer the visuals correctly, reinforce the behavior! Visual choice boards are a great way to get this structured:

I use some visual choice boards in my classroom to provide my students with options for how to spend their break time as well as a way to appropriately ask for a break. Allowing access to breaks can be an effective way to decrease negative behaviors. Some problem behaviors can occur to gain access to breaks. Teaching students how to appropriately ask for a break can decrease problem behaviors since they now have a way to get access to the reinforcer (the break time!).

Here is a free printable for this ‘I need a change…’ break choice board.


Check out all these awesome ideas I found on pinterest to make play skills structured and visually organized!













  1. Thank you so much for this post! My ADD self needs a structured environment, so I often struggle with “down time” for my students. I am going to use some of the examples you gave from Pinterest. Thanks again!

  2. Love, love, LOVE this! Thank you!

  3. Happy this was helpful 🙂

  4. Thanks, Robin!

  5. We love the Popsicle pattern cards. Did you make them or purchase them? Where can we get our hands on some?

  6. Sorry – I got that idea from pinterest. So don’t have the resource for that!


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