Breaks play an important role during a training session particularly in the case of long training sessions. If you are delivering a full day training session, let’s say an 8-hour training day, then you should give at least 2 breaks during the training day. The first break could be a coffee break in the morning while the second can be a lunch break in the afternoon.
It is essential that the lunch be a light meal so that participants can come back to the training still vitalized. Having fish for lunch might not be a good idea as it would probably make participants feel sleepy. The trainer may provide some physical activities, such as a game that involves movement, to participants right after the lunch break in order to make them regain their vitality. Alternatively, the trainer may keep participants seated right after the lunch break providing them with a video or a brief activity that does not require movement then follow that with a physical activity. This would allow participants to get a brief rest first after the lunch before they go ahead with the physical activity. The transitional step helps reduce trainee resistance for carrying out the physical activity the trainer asks them to do after the lunch break.
For shorter training sessions, let’s say of 3 hours of length, a trainer may proceed with one break only. The break can be timed at around the middle of the training session.
As for the duration of the break, as a rule of thumb, the trainer should include 10 minutes of rest in each hour of training. For instance, for a 3-hour training session, the trainer may give a 30 minutes break, which amounts to 10 minutes of rest in every hour of training.
For a training day that is 8 hours long, the trainer may provide a total of 80 minutes in breaks. If he is giving 2 breaks then one of them can be for 20 minutes (coffee break) and the other for 1 hour (lunch break) which together amount for a total of 80 minutes. Alternatively, the 80 minutes may be divided on 30 and 50 minutes respectively. A trainer may even decide to divide the 80 minutes on 3 breaks instead. For instance, the 3 breaks can be set to 20, 40 and 20 minutes respectively, with the longest break being reserved for lunch.
Benefits of Breaks
Breaks help trainees revitalize. They help them digest information and experiences they had during the part of the training session before the break and makes them ready for acquiring more.
It is a very good idea that the trainer summarizes what took place during the session right before providing a break and once again right after trainees come back from the break. Such times are the peak memory times and help boost retention. They act as a container that helps retain in the mind what has been experienced during the training session.
Finally, the time interval of breaks does not have to be set in stone. A trainer may decide on more or less than 10 minutes of break time for each hour of training depending on circumstances. A trainer should be very clear about the exact time the break would end and write that down on the flip chart or white board so that trainees would come back in time.
What other benefits do you think breaks can have?