Got the Fidgets? They Can Help You Learn

By Becky Benishek | Posted on 04.04.2014 | 0 comments
The mental image still exists of a typical classroom: Neat, orderly desks, peaceful scratching of pencils on paper or fingers tapping on iPads, hands raised primly to answer a question. No swiveling, no moving around, no outdoor behavior.
A still, quiet learning environment; surely that’s a good way to let education sink in?
It still is. But it’s not the only way. In “Why do we make students sit still in class?” teachers and parents discuss the immense benefits of controlled chaos—allowing movement to help students feel more engaged with what they’re studying, yet ensuring a clear structure and setting limits around these opportunities. This progressive teaching style can include having students move to different places in the room, act out a lesson with a script and props, or simply pass a soccer ball around the room with their feet while seated at their desks.
Kristen Hess, founder and principal of Hess Academy, views movement in the classroom as “’an extension of student choice,’” granting them the privilege of moving that we allow ourselves as adults. She sees three benefits to letting the fidgets in:
  • Optimizes focus and attention
  • Releases pent-up energy to help students focus on a different activity
  • Fosters a vehicle for learning
First grade teacher Carlita Scarboro agrees. She establishes boundaries at the beginning of the year so her students recognize signals to quiet down or move to another activity. She moves herself and her students—with their work—around the classroom to help them understand the content better. Scarboro’s techniques started in her home: Her son has autism, and her experiences with various learning techniques helped her develop her teaching philosophy.
Learn more about this progressive form of teaching and why some teachers believe movement fosters learning, and follow CPI’s Empathic Educator Gary Weber for more tips on nurturing students in and out of the classroom.
Is your kid a “mover”? Do you think movement should be a part of how children learn in class?

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