Five Tips for Teaching Kids Who Are Always On the Move

Before I stayed home with my own children and homeschooled them, I taught elementary school and then high school special education students. I very often had students who couldn’t sit still. In the elementary classroom I tried to give my kids opportunities to wiggle and move, and I never required students to sit very still and formally. But in a classroom of twenty or more children, it’s hard to accommodate wiggly kids.

And then I began homeschooling. Out of my four children, I have two who have always been particularly wiggly. They have always had trouble sitting still. As homeschoolers we have so much more freedom for kids to move, to wiggle. I love this about homeschooling. These two children in particular would have always struggled in school. They would likely have been labeled as behavior problems, or their frustration with not being free to move may have spilled over into their behavior at home. I’m so glad they’ve had the freedom to move as they needed because of homeschooling.

Even though I’m glad these wiggly kids have been free to be themselves in homeschooling, I admit that there are times that I’ve just wanted them to be still. There have been times that I just feel like we’ll never accomplish anything because these kids just won’t stop moving. So, what’s a homeschool mom to do with these kids who are constantly on the move? Here are a few ideas.

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Teach short lessons.

  Short lessons are one of the hallmarks of a Charlotte Mason education. When I first began reading about Charlotte Mason as a young homeschooling mama, many of her ideas and methods resonated with me. This was one of the main ones. I think we often push children into being fidgety and too restless because we expect them to sit through long lessons.

Decide when and why it is most important for kids to sit still.

  I don’t see a purpose in making children sit still through lots of lesson time. We are at home, in the comfort of our own house. Why would I recreate a school environment where kids need to sit still? There are times they do need to be more still. If what they are doing is a distraction to themselves or someone else, perhaps there is too much movement. But know your reasons for requiring a child to sit still and don’t expect it all the time.

Allow appropriate, non-distracting movement.

  I have always allowed my kids to color or draw if we are reading long amounts at a time. I understand that sometimes their hands need to be busy for their minds to be focused. At times I’ve also allowed play-doh or even Legos to be used depending on the situation.

Stagger subjects that require more sitting still with subjects that allow for movement.

Do you have some school subjects that just seem to take a long time? If you have subjects that require long periods of time reading or that seem to take awhile to complete, stagger those subjects with shorter, more quickly completed subjects.

Know when to call it quits for the moment.

  Sometimes a child is so fidgety that you just both need a break. Having a trampoline has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been known to send out a child to jump off some energy so we can regroup and try again. If you don’t have a trampoline, running a few laps around the perimeter of the house works pretty well too.

Teaching kids who like to move can provide some challenges. But, often these kids are also lots and lots of fun. Enjoy the time you have together without constantly stressing over sitting still.

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