We have a couple boys in our homeschool that just struggle to sit still. One of them has started growing out of the hyperactivity from his ADHD, but still can really struggle sitting still occasionally. He has done really well with a very active and physically demanding job (gymnastics coach.) When he was younger though, he had to constantly be doing something during seat work to keep his hands or feet busy.
The other one only has a short period of time he is able to sit still every day, if I have to teach him outside of that timeframe I really need to think outside the box or things will fall apart quickly. This is no joke he is on the go from the minute he wakes up till the time his sleeping medicines finally helps tell his body it is finally time to go to sleep. His speeds are fast and faster… since the day he was born.
So today I am going to share some of the ideas I have used over the years that have worked for keeping wiggly kids focused in our homeschool. After 9 years of homeschooling we have had plenty of time to figure out what works and doesn’t.
Tips for keeping wiggly kids focused during school
- Get outside before seat work ~ Not all mornings do we start school with the kids playing outside before we start. But the mornings the kids (especially the kids who struggle to sit still) they can sit still so much better, and focus for longer periods of time. This is because these kids need the input from physical activity and the fresh air is SO good for them!
- Provide some way for them to wiggle during seat work ~ We all know that there are some kids that just struggle with sitting no matter how much fresh air/physical activity they get. I have 2 of these kiddos. In order to keep them from making constant noise or some other inappropriate activity that will distract every other person in the room, I give them an appropriate thing for them to move around with.
- We have a wiggle disc seat that is great my kids will regularly use when they have to sit doing work for extended period of time. A wedge chair cushion in another great option.
- A exercise band around the 2 front legs of the chair, the kids can stretch it out with their feet during seat work.
- Let the child have their chewy, provide chewy pencil toppers, or let them chew gum.
- Let the child sit and balance on a big ball instead for their seat of sitting in their chair.
- Have a basket of fidget items ~ Because we do quite a bit of reading some of my sensory kids have a hard time not being a distraction while I am reading. Letting them have access to a basket of sensory fidgets helps them sit still and our story time is more likely to be peaceful. Obviously there are certain items that cannot be used during reading, there are also quite a few items we not have in our fidget basket in this picture. Thinking putty is a great idea, play dough, DIY stress balls, floam, DIY flubber, etc. Adding fidgets to your pencils is another fun way to keep hands busy.
- Think of different ways the lesson can be done in a more active way ~ If your child struggles with spelling for instance and dreads writing the words on paper why not let them use the marker board and write their words on, or use a sand tray, play dough, etc. The lesson doesn’t always need to be done in the exact way it tells you, change it up a bit to add in more movement.
- Noise canceling headphones ~ We have a child’s set of these headphones that are great when there is a lot of noise around the house and one of the children cannot concentrate because of it. They are also useful for one of my kiddos who cannot stand loud places instead of me having to hold my hands over his ears the whole time, we just use our noise canceling headphones, they work great! NOTE: get the headphones in the sporting goods department for a dramatic savings!
- Swing on a sensory swing ~ We have a sensory swing in our sensory motor room in our basement, my husband made this swing for us for about $30. Research shows that using a swing that is hung from from a single point gives children more effective, stronger, and longer lasting vestibular input. Swinging on a swing is an ideal source of vestibular input, and if done for 15 minutes on a swing, can last up to 8 hours in the central nervous system, the other types of input only last about 2 hours, so they must be done more often.
One of the ways we changed up a lesson this week was to use this months rabbit counters to do our Math-U-See work page. Ethan was struggling to get his work done for the day, and he had really enjoyed organizing the rabbit counters for almost an hour that morning. So we pulled out the rabbit counters and did the problems with rabbits instead, I wrote the answers down for him since I know he can write numbers just fine. He flew through the math page instead of getting upset and struggling through each problem.
Disclaimer: As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I am provided with the program every month to use in our homeschool. In return I share about different topics monthly as well as the use of our curriculum. I am not compensated in any other way, all opinions are the honest opinions of my children or myself. This post contains affiliate links, when you make a purchase using these links we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support! For more information read my full disclosure.