Inside you’ll find: Why kids NEED to fidget and wiggle to facilitate learning and how to bring movement into the classroom without unnecessary distraction.
I was the good girl.
When I was homeschooled, I sat in my seat, kept quiet, and did my worksheets.
My brother on the other hand???
My memories of his homeschool days mostly involve him crawling around under the kitchen table (yes, as a middle schooler!) or hanging upside down off the couch while my saint of a mom would read to him or attempt to drill math facts.
It didn’t seem like anyone could learn that way!
But mom was way ahead of her time and it turns out that that very movement and sensory input was actually helping my brother become the highly successful professional he is today.
Super excited to be partnering with Fun and Function today to showcase the importance of movement in the classroom and how you can practically make that happen! This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
As fate would have it, I’ve been blessed with three boys remarkably similar to my brother. My dreams of peace and quite are long gone, but I’ve found that embracing movement and gross motor activities have dramatically helped my boys to learn and thrive.
Why Movement Contributes to Learning
Every child has sensory needs that must be met, one way or another. One of these needs is vestibular input. This is basically movement, balance and anything related to the inner ear. When a child is forced to hold still for lengthy amounts of time, they aren’t getting the sensory input they need and crave.
Many will make valiant attempts at obedience, willing themselves to hold still. But all their concentration is on staying seated, instead of on their school work! Others won’t be able to contain themselves.
Have you ever seen a perfectly stable child magically fall out of their seat? Yeah, that’s usually a sensory need!
But if a child is given an appropriate outlet for their sensory needs, their brain is freed up to learn!
Hindrances to Movement in the Classroom
It all sounds good on paper, but there’s a reason teachers would much prefer students to just. hold. still.
Noise – It’s hard to teach history during the roar of recess. It’s nearly impossible to cover phonics over the boing of a pogo stick. Bringing movement into the classroom is often neglected because of the noise factor.
Distraction – A game of tag is a great brain break full of sensory input, but it’s rather all-consuming and steals a child’s attention from learning.
But not all sensory activities need to be a gross motor free-for-all.
Consider a balance board for the feet to fidget with under a desk!
This has been a fantastic solution for us!
While my son’s feet move and get vestibular and proprioceptive input, his hands are free to work and his brain is engaged in learning!
I’ve found this balance board to be more versatile than dedicated wiggle seats because it can be used with any chair and it’s easily transported. It’s lightweight but extremely sturdy.
The really cool thing is how the balance board can double as a sensory therapy tool later in the day or during a brain break.
Practice memory or oral work while your child stands up on the board. The off-center fulcrum adds to the balance challenge.
You could also develop coordination by placing a bean bag or other object on one end and have your child launch the bag by stomping on the other end!
Simple and versatile sensory tools are a must in every classroom and sensory friendly home.
Check out Fun and Function for TONS of other options. And let me know your favorite way to incorporate movement and sensory input in the classroom in the comments below!