Break Time

By Courtney Tabor-... on Mar 22, 2017

In our adult lives, there are a number of times when we must find something to fill brief break times or waiting periods. We use our break time at work to go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee; we pass the time waiting in a doctor’s office by reading a magazine or playing games on our cell phones. For students with vision impairments, understanding how to use break time can often be a challenge. Those without the ability to visually observe their surroundings are often unaware of the ways in which others around them are using their free time. Furthermore, students who are used to being accompanied or assisted by an adult in most of their school, home, or community activities can struggle with time that is unstructured. Although the use of break or waiting time may seem inconsequential, it is on the contrary an important skill for transition and work readiness. Workers need to know how to use their break time appropriately. This ability demonstrates an understanding of what activities are appropriate in the workplace, and also indicates that the individual can be independent and take initiative during unstructured times. 

This activity can be particularly helpful for students who:

  • Have difficulties dealing with unstructured situations

  • Seek frequent assistance, feedback, or affirmation from adults

  • Need to expand their understanding of work culture

  • Need to broaden their understanding of leisure pastimes

Through the activity below, students can build upon their career education, recreation/leisure, and self determination skills.


  • Writing tools/tools for list making


  1. This is a brainstorming activity, best completed by a small group of 3-4 students.
  2. Ask the group to identify times when they have to either wait or pass some time between activities. Examples may include:
    • Sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office
    • Arriving to class early/passing time between classes
    • Waiting for a ride
    • Break time or lunch time at work
    • Waiting in line
  3. Ask the students to identify ideas for passing the time during waiting or break periods. Examples may include:
    • Eating a snack
    • Using the bathroom
    • Checking email
    • Listening to music
    • Reading a book
    • Taking a walk
    • Returning calls or text messages
    • Socializing with others
    • Knitting or crocheting
    • Playing a game
  4. Discuss which of the identified activities are appropriate in which situations. For example:
    • Is it appropriate or a good idea to eat a snack during a break at work? What about while waiting in line at the grocery store?
    • Which activities are okay to do before class? Which are not?
  5. Ask each student to develop a list of 4 activities that she can try during break times. Not all students will enjoy every activity, which is why the list should be individualized for each student. Students can help each other to brainstorm ideas.
  6. Students should use their lists as a guide and practice using these skills in school and work environments. Some students may feel comfortable selecting and initiating these activities during break times; others may require initial prompting until the activities become more comfortable and familiar.

Collage for break time

Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.