Tips from a homeschool mom of six for when your child just won’t sit still for online learning.
This year, my six (yes you read that right!) kids are learning from home. I’m doing what I can to make this a positive experience. I make sure they are well-rested and well-fed. I pour on hugs and pep-talks, reminding them that we are in this together.
But 30 minutes into the first online class of the day, things are already getting rough. My daughter is wiggling and slumping over the desk – kind of like a butterfly trying to wriggle free from its cocoon. My son is hopping and bopping around the room. By lunchtime, they just can’t sit any longer. I feel exhausted and wish I could help them.
We’ve all been there. As parents, we’re doing our best to keep our at-home students focused. We want them to be successful learners, but mostly we just want them to be happy. How can we find the balance between focused learning and letting out the wiggles?
Let them Wiggle
Kids are dynamic, non-stop balls of movement and energy! They experience the world through movement. Constant movement is natural, and integral to development – physically, mentally, and intellectually. Movement is how developing kids gather information about the world. Sensory stimulation strengthens neural pathways.
We don’t have to resist their natural need to move – we can make movement part of everyday learning, especially remote learning.
Here are some easy tips for you to begin including physical activity in your family’s learning experience, starting today! Try them out and see what works best for your family!
Different Levels of Wiggle
It is healthy for bodies to get up at least once an hour to move and stretch, but often kids need more. You can add regularly scheduled activity breaks to suit your family. Keep it fun! Change it up, and try anything once! If you are having fun, they will too.
High Energy Activities:
Try these at lunch time, or anytime you can hit “pause” on learning for a few minutes, and full-on dive into movement:
· Fire Drill! Stop, drop and roll, then run all around the house like wild animals – out the front door and in the back door! Set a time limit – like 60 seconds or whatever seems reasonable – to make it exciting.
· Quick Dance Party - Put on their favorite song and dance and spin around the kitchen. Include stuffed animal partners.
· Get Your Exercise On – Dream up your own family exercise circuit, with jumping jacks, hopping, skipping, and running. Choose a song, and do it together each day.
Moderately active – once an hour:
· Turn that Frown Upside Down! Inversion is healthy, and a great way to refresh the brain anytime. Try a headstand, lying down with your legs up the wall, or hanging your upper body over the arm of a sofa. Whatever positions places the head below the heart. This is great for brain fog or before a test.
· Heart Openers – to counteract a hunched sitting position, take frequent breaks to reverse that position, stretching shoulders and arms back. Other sitting stretches can be added anytime, like neck rolls, side stretches.
· Funny Face Exercises – squish the muscles of your face up small, as if you just ate a lemon. Then open your mouth and eyes WIDE, stretch the tongue out and raise eyebrows. This exercise is very refreshing for face muscles, and good for a laugh!
Freedom to Move - anytime:
· Stand-up desks are great for kids! They provide freedom to stand, sit at a stool, or fidget whenever necessary. Regular desks and tables can be modified.
· Oxygen and Posture Check - Set a timer to regularly remind all family members to check their posture, sit up straight, and take a nice deep breath.
Classes that Use Movement to Teach:
· Some online schools actually have physical activities built-in to their programs. These educators understand the importance of movement, and have wisely decided to harness the power of activity to enhance learning. Try Read with the Beat by MonsterEducation.com. This program uses hip-hop music, rhythm, and physical movement to make reading exercises more fun and memorable.
· Vocalization and social interaction are both valuable ways to incorporate physical activity in learning. Monster Education also offers an interactive course called Public Speaking Through Stand-Up Comedy that strengthens students’ dramatic story-telling skills.
Make it your own
Include your whole family in inventing large and small ways to add activity into their school day.
A child’s natural energy is one of their best assets!
Let’s celebrate that energy positively, and find ways to include it in the learning process.
Alison McKim is a veteran homeschooling mom of 6 awesome kids, a writer, and an outdoor educator. She finds her greatest joy in helping children connect to nature and the creative arts.