If your child can't seem to sit still in class, and his fidgeting is starting to disrupt the learning of others in his classroom, you may have already been contacted by your child's school about the situation. Parents of strong willed, verbose and energetic children know these gifts also come with challenges. Those challenges may be so great that you have a bit of anxiety when you see your child's school's phone number pop up on caller ID during the weekday. Most parents, at one time or another, have to deal with disciplinary issues with their children at school. But for those of us with kids who can't sit still, it spills over into them not listening and then not following directions; all of which leads to unhappy students and unhappy teachers.
As a parents, I think we generally look for the good and exceptional nature in our children. I know I do. My nearly six year old is intelligent, energetic, joyful and eager. But he also can't sit still. He seems to be in perpetual motion; talking, moving, singing and telling stories out loud. As parents, we want to help our children with their struggles. We have songs we sing each morning. "Listen and obey. Keep my hands and feet to myself!" And we've developed mantras. "When asked to do something, obey Quickly, Completely and Without Complaint (QCWC)." My husband and I work with our youngest boy everyday on patience, not interrupting, and calm, quiet speaking. We make sure he is not consuming loads of sugar, and that he eats healthy, real food. He drinks lots of water and gets 10 hours of sleep a night.
But what happens when all of that effort is not enough? What happens when the school calls and says your child was struggling to following directions and now he's hiding under a desk and won't come out....and he is striking out at anyone who tries to coax him out. Some might say that child is undisciplined or not ready for school. Others might say he is spoiled, scary or maybe even disturbed. Trust me, the list of labels goes on and on. As a mother, it breaks my heart for my son to be known as the one causing problems.
So as parents, we struggle with how to help. Academically, my child is exceptional, but not being able to sit still leads to him getting in trouble. Getting in trouble is upsetting, which sometimes leads to hiding under a desk. As a parent, how I can help my child sit still and focus and succeed? As I relentlessly tried EVERYTHING I could think of to help my son, it's been continued research and trial and error which has led us to a clear path for success.
Research now shows that a lack in core strength directly contributes to a child's lack of ability to sit still and stay on task. Several recent studies are showing positive results by getting children to build their core strength. For more detail on one such study go to "Effects of Classroom-Based Physical Activities on Off-Task Behaviors and Attention: Kindergarten Case Study." "Study results indicated that implementation of classroom-based physical activities decreased students’ off- task behaviors." In other words, physical activity helped to keep students focused and on-task!
My son and I have started doing five basic core strength exercises everyday.
Sit ups (We can kiss when he makes it up!)
Leg and arm reach
and Air kicks
We started with games of Simon Says, which makes it fun, especially with so many steps to follow to ensure good form and posture when doing strength training exercises. I hope to ask permission to lead my son's first grade class in core strength exercises for a few minutes every morning. To develop an exercise plan for your child go to "Why these Core Muscle Exercises Help Prevent Learning Challenges in the Classroom."
The research seems to be clear. For me, I will be approaching my all my kids' teachers to see if I can lead their class in five minutes of core exercises a day. Eventually, especially with my older boys, we can rotate the exercise leader among the students. There are so many possibilities to address this issue and we are working on it by building core strength!