I chose to become a pediatric Occupational Therapist because I’ve always loved kids but also, I can’t sit still. I think best when I’m moving and doodling. I think doodling is a word? 🙂 Like kids, I struggle to sit still for long, let alone sit still and learn. I love when research shows that children who get more physical activity actually do better in schools.
It certainly takes creativity and flexibility on a teachers part to cater to each students sensory preferences and what helps them learn. Some kids need to move, others need to fidget or doodle, and some may need to chew. This improves the child’s processing, attention, memory and overall ability to learn.
Movement Breaks for the Classroom:
-Run /jog on spot, march, spin, do jumping jacks.
-Yoga moves in chair or while standing
-Brain gym activities
-Pass out materials or tidy up
-Use a move ‘n sit cushion
-Sit on a balance ball
-Stand at the table instead
-Lay on floor to do work
Here are some fun ‘Brain Breaks’ for teachers to combine movement and learning:
Fidgets are also helpful for processing and learning. Teachers can provide students with rules to safely use fidgets. Items used could be: ponytail bands, paper clips, Velcro under the table, key chain on trouser loops, stretchy bracelets, pencil toppers, koosh balls, balloons filled with flour or rice, or simply an eraser. Consider the child’s sensory preferences when choosing a fidget and change it for variety. Some children need feet fidgets. My friend Ida Zelaya from Sensory Street, Inc.
suggested rolling cut-up pool noodles with the feet. Perhaps even having a beanbag to use with the feet.
Proprioceptive input, heavy work, can be calming and organizing. The easiest way is by running an errand or doing chores involving heavy lifting, pushing or pulling. A popular strategy is to tie theraband to the chair legs to stretch with legs or squeezing a stress ball.
Here are 3 wonderful articles to share with your teacher or school:
Due to every child having their own sensory and learning preferences, it’s important to have an Occupational Therapist advise on strategies, frequency and intensity of sensory input to help under various circumstances. Ultimately, the goal is for the child to learn this for themselves. 🙂