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Let Them Fidget

In my walkabouts in the elementary school, I always notice that some of the kindergartners through second graders have a hard time sitting still.  The tendency to squirm is usually unfortunate for a child because it often seems that some primary teachers place a big premium on sitting still.  I agree that’s it’s important for kids to learn how to keep their hands and feet to themselves, but not sitting still, especially for little boys, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not paying attention.  In fact, I’ve known some kids who could pay better attention if they had a ball to squeeze or paper and pencil to doodle on.

Kids playing  Anyway, the AP reports that some teachers have replaced the standard school desk with work stations that can be adjusted for height so that kids can stand if they want to.  In Idaho, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, some schools are allowing the fidgets to sit or stand or even walk about during lessons.  Teacher Jim Oloff says, “It’s not normal for students, or even necessarily for adults, to sit still for long periods of time.”

Allowing kids to work while standing isn’t a bad idea.  But the desks are expensive ($250 - $500).  I’d make a couple of other, cheaper suggestions.  Let all kids get up and move every so often.  Do jumping jacks between subjects.  Go outside for a 10-minutes recess.  And finally, remember that as long as they keep their hands and feet to themselves, it’s OK if they’re not sitting primly with their feet on the floor.





You should check out classroom models that utilize stations, like Project CHILD and TEAMS. We use these models in our K-8 school and the kids really love them - they are doing hands-on and computer work, moving between stations, using their hands, and talking to others about their work. Not only does it keep our fidgeters busy, it encourages leadership and collaboration skills, helps our shy kids be more social, and challenges gifted students.

Thanks for the info, Allison. I did check out the website for project Child and I am impressed. I particularly like the "3-dimensional" aspect of elementary teaching.

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I have students that like to have a stress ball in their hands during class. Others like a rubiks cube. It helps their fidgety hands and it helps their minds pay attention. I'm glad that schools are seeing that it is hard for some students to sit still. I have many students with ADHD. Sometimes just taking a water fountain break helps.

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