Dealing with the Fidgets

Categories: Interventions | Resources

Today we have a guest post from  Ilana Danneman, a Physical Therapist from Fun and Function – a company that develops innovative toys and therapy tools that help children with special needs navigate their differences through play. I laughed out loud when I read the first few lines of her guest post because I so know what she is talking about! There are days where I have meticulously planned (what I think) is an engaging and amazing and my kiddos are bouncing off the walls and don’t even notice… sigh… I love her suggestions on strategies to get rid of the wiggles!

Did you ever have those days when you bound into the classroom filled with endless energy, ready to tackle a daunting concept or lesson, only to find that your charges did not get the memo?  They are fidgety, they are restless, they are jumping out of their skin, or perhaps they are just plain out of it. When the kiddos aren’t focused, even the most carefully planned lessons fall flat. Here are some tips on keeping things calm, cool, and collected when the wiggles strike.

Wiggle in place: Lots of us are kinesthetic learners, meaning we learn best by moving and doing. If an activity or lesson plan involves lots of sitting, and hopping around won’t do, providing fidgiters with a wiggle cushion can do wonders for concentration levels. They provide the perfect amount of movement to maximize focus while staying in place, and can supply craved sensory input as well. Every classroom should have a few of these magic cushions handy.

Chomp and Chew: Chewing is another great concentration tool that also doubles as a stress reducer. Before teaching a concept that your students may find a tad difficult, provide them with a crunchy snack. Chomping on baby carrots or pretzels can really help draw kids back in when you sense their attention slowly ebbing

Jump it Out:  Break up longer lesson with some movement time. Although messing with routine is never a good thing, having the kids break for something like jumping jacks or a small game of catch can zap up levels of concentration and mental alertness, allowing you to finish your lesson with a refreshed audience.

Finger Fidgets: Sometimes it’s the hands that need a workout to keep the brain engaged. If a student has busy fingers, there are a host of excellent fidgets available that can help with manipulative play, and sneak in some fine motor training skills in the process. Of course there are a bunch of DIY solutions like filling a Ziploc bag with a bit of water and food coloring, or filling a balloon with flour and the likes…

Just Swing It: If your classroom is equipped with one, giving students a timeout in a swing/hammock can really put them back into the swing of things (pun seriously not intended) . Swings not only provide motion, but sensory integration as well, and can be the perfect thing for a calming sensory break.

Just like we all could use a cup of coffee to help us survive a long and rambling meeting, some kids just need a little extra something to help them stay put and focus. What tips and tricks do you use in your classroom?


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