I Need a BREAK! Visual Break Cards

I NEED a Break!
Break Cards for Calm Down Corner

    Everybody needs a break sometimes.  Our students can become overwhelmed at times, during work time especially, and may need a break.  The thing is that they may not always know how to ask for a break appropriately.  I use these break card visuals with students to help them learn to ask for a break when they need one.  Break cards are an essential tool for helping students who need to take a break during work time.  It is important for our students to have the breaks that they need.  Breaks can help students refocus and prevent unexpected behaviors (behaviors that may occur from feeling overwhelmed) from occurring by providing students the opportunity to utilize calming strategies and by showing students that it is OKAY to need a break sometimes.  We need to teach students to self-advocate for the breaks that they need.  However, we also want to teach our students that there is a limit to how many breaks they are able to take so that they are able to have time for work too.  The goal is for breaks to be utilized as a tool for self-regulation, but not to use them as a way to escape work.
    Some students only need one break, but others may need more. You can choose how many breaks your students get during a certain period of time.  Teach your students to take the break card visual off and give it to you.  They do NOT need to use verbal, which is an important factor, especially for our students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other related disabilities.  I always start by helping the student request the break and have them take off the card and give it to me, using hand-over-hand if your student requires that level of prompting.  Typically, your students in general education classrooms will not need this level of prompting and can utilize their breaks if you first provide an explanation of what to use them for and how they work, and break expectations.  You know your students best and will know which level of prompting they need.
    DATA is KEY!  It’s important to also take data and keep track of how many/how often your student(s) are utilizing their break cards and taking a break.  I use a data collection sheet (included with the break cards pack) to keep track of the data for student breaks. You can use this data in a variety of ways.  For starters, you can use the data to include in a student’s IEP (more about IEPs in a new post series coming soon!)  You can use the data to reduce the number of breaks and/or the duration of the breaks that your student(s) take.  You can also use the data if there are already IEP goals that you are implementing regarding break time and/or work time.  I have also used these break cards for students who are in the R.T.I. process (Response to Intervention – another blog post coming soon).
I hope these Break Cards help you and your students!  Let me know by tagging me in a post on Social Media @specialeducationclubhouse and I may feature your photo!

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