One of the most common problems I hear kids getting in trouble for is for having too much energy & not being able to sit still. It frustrates me so much that kids get in so much trouble and there is so much stress around making them sit still. Kids were not made to sit still! They need many opportunities to move and burn energy. Every study that has looked at it has shown that kids and adults, learn better when given the opportunity to move often. I even hear many kids are forced to miss recess because they are having a hard time sitting still. How does this make any sense at all to anyone? If a child is having a hard time sitting still they don't need to be forced to sit still more! They need more opportunities to move! This is not rocket science!
Unfortunately too many of our schools are set up for kids to fail. They try cramming in more sitting to “learn” instead of letting kids have more time for movement that increases blood flow to the brain and makes it easier for them to learn. Kids that learn things through play need much less repetition then if kids are taught that same thing without the opportunity to make it fun. (Follow this link for s study on learning through play.) I understand there are definitely times where kids need to sit down and do certain types of work. But there needs to be a balance. They need to have opportunities every hour for 10 to 15 minutes of movement.
Some schools have figured this out and are encouraging students to have more recess time and they are having great results. ( Click Here for more info). I wish this trend would spread and include all school children. They need unstructured opportunities to use their creativity, take risks, and move! So many adults (and children) in our country have problems with getting enough activity, so why do we put so much effort into trying to make them sit more and move less? I see teachers trying to get creative in providing opportunities for kids to get in movement while sitting in class, They are going to donations sites to raise money to provide their classrooms with ball chairs,, pedal machines, wobble chairs, etc. What if you can't fund these type of items? Here are some simple activities to build more movement into your classroom.
Walk like an Egyptian! Anytime your class need to move from one room to the next, ask them to move in a fun way. Walk like a robot, slide your feet as if you are skating, walk with your hands on your head, tip toe. Create several options and pick them from a hat, always allow children to walk in the “typical” way if they are not comfortable walking in the creative way.
Jump Around! Give kids a few minutes to hop on one foot, pretend to jump rope or just do some jumping jacks. Maybe play some music and get your jump on!
Everybody Dance Now! Play a favorite kid friendly song and dance like no one is watching!
Another Brick in the Wall Have each child find a place on a wall that they can push against, placing their hands on the wall have them push to “keep the wall up”. If they want they can do push ups against the wall to burn even more energy.
How Low Can You Go? Lead the children in a set of squats or just holding a low sit (without a chair)
Hokey Pokey Lead the class in a few rounds of the Hokey Pokey
The Chicken Dance A few round of the chicken dance is sure to blow off some steam and burn some energy
Anyway the Wind Blows Give each child a straw and some cotton balls (or just a small piece of paper folded into an inverted V), have each child blow their cotton ball or paper across their desk or along the floor. Blowing uses a lot of muscles and can be calming for most kids.
These are just a few ways to get more movement into your day. Anytime a teacher can incorporate movement and play into an activity they better focus and attention most kids will be able to give. Teachers have so much on their plate and are asked to do the near impossible. I hope parents and administrators can work to support teachers in creating safe healthy learning environments that really work for everyone.