Children are natural jigglers and wrigglers. They don’t stay still for a good reason. I am sure I am not the only teacher who has stared at her class and drawn a sharp comparison with a basket of wriggling worms!
They learn by moving, touching, pushing, pulling, moulding, grabbing ……. just watch a group of pre-schoolers at play!
This does not magically stop when they reach a certain age.
Sure their concentration span lengthens but even 10/11 year old need to move.
We are kidding ourselves if we think passive children sitting in desks doing worksheet after worksheet are really learning.
Learning can be interactive, challenging, messy, satisfying, frustrating, joyful ……… all within one lesson! Of course there is a place for worksheets. A well designed worksheet can help children to revise and deepen understanding. But- worksheets will never take the place of a good teacher who can adapt the learning environment very skilfully and often quite quickly to improve learning outcomes.
If we force children to sit quietly for longer than comfortable they will often put all their energy into trying to do just that. For a child that is a bit like us wanting to visit the bathroom BADLY after the seat-belt sign is switched on for landing!
Wise Child Whispering teachers and parents understand this and ensure youngsters have plenty of opportunity to JIGGLE, JUMP, RUN, MOVE – children learn by moving!
Here are some really effective ways to include movement activities in classrooms. We use these regularly as part of Victoria Carlton Programs
Start each day with some movement education- either some Brain Gym or maybe the fantastic Harry Potter Yoga! If you do this you are stimulating their brains and helping some of them deflect some excess energy. https://youtu.be/R-BS87NTV5I2.
Allow your VERY jiggly children a stress ball or similar so they can squeeze and concentrate.
Don’t ask children to concentrate for more than 15 minutes without a stretch, quick exercise, change of activity etc.
Ensure you have plenty of learning strategies drawn from the physical intelligence area of MI so that children can learn while moving!
Try human sums! Children can act like human counters for various operations.
When children sound out words let them jump up and down or bounce a ball at the same time!
Practise word recognition and sentence structure by standing in a line and holding up words and punctuation marks.
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar are incredibly effective ways for children to learn literacy skills and I am convinced that a large part of their effectiveness is due to the huge movement and activity component of the program. Ask us about training opportunities for these courses.
Allow plenty of time for art and craft as it calms children and the amount of learning increases.
(See my FAST ART AND CRAFT ACTIVITIES for ideas https://www.pinterest.com/victoriacarlton/fast-artcraft-activities/
Change the learning environment and displays often so children feel stimulated and enjoy exploring the environment.
Don’t always teach from the front- occasionally teach from the back of the class, have them out of chairs close to you (even big kids!), go into another learning area or even outside. To wake up children’s brains we can’t be TOO predictable!
Choose NOT to notice every wiggle and jiggle. Constantly stopping our teaching for very small lapses of concentration is incredibly annoying to other children and they start to lose the thread of your lesson!
Consider teaching some strategies to let some of the excess physical energy out! (Sort of like opening the steam vents on a cooking pan!)
I teach my chronic wrigglers to curl their toes or fingers and then let them go. This gives a slight movement outlet. They can also tap quietly with feet.
Make daily MINDFULNESS time an integral part of your program. Children sit for a minute in silence, letting go of any worries and just emptying their minds. The quality of the learning after the mindfulness minute is easily observable!
Consider using our visualisations programs: Mind Journeys. We have over 50 of these ready for teachers and parents and provide examples on social media and the whole lot are available in our forthcoming MIND JOURNEYS BOOK. (You can pre-order this now) We have found that using this method to teach creative writing and thinking, has had HUGE benefits for children who normally cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes.
If you would like to know more about your own “jiggling worms,” their cocktails of intelligences and how to increase them, order our ALL KIDS ARE SMART book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are in SE Asia order through www.september21.com.sg
Children are MEANT to jiggle and move so let’s go WITH it in our learning programs rather than putting all our energy into trying to change something that is not actually meant to change! ACTIVE learning and ACTIVE teaching strategies work!
I have had a little “just under 2” child staying at my house for a few days and his Mum boldly told me, “We are not leaving till you have taught Hudson to read!”
MMMMM- bit of a challenge there!
Joanna (my daughter), grabbed the Jolly Phonics manual and made some flash cards of the first few lessons and taught Hudson the sounds and actions. Amazingly he just learned them and now LOVES to practise- until he gets bored and wanders off to ride his bike or whatever!
I realised when he left that Hudson taught and re-taught me quite a few lessons that ALL teachers need to remember. He taught me more than I taught him! Here are a few things I learned about toddlers!
• Don’t push it- when the learning is over, it’s OVER.
• Young children can easily learn the sounds and in fact enjoy this.
• Children will take your specially constructed games and invent even more interesting games to play!
• Music and movement trumps everything else!
• Humour and a good dose of silliness makes EVERYTHING work!
• Strong colours in books really attract.
• Children do not need expensive toys. In fact almost everything you need to teach a toddler is already in your house!
Kids want to do EVERYTHING themselves!
They have an insatiable curiosity and are therefore completely open for learning!
There is no joy greater than playing with a completely free and inventive, creative toddler.
If you can- arrange to spend a few hours with a toddler this week. You will re-discover your inner child and be forced to be creative!
Hudson’s coming for the day on Friday and I’m excited!