Movement Strategies for Kids Who Struggle to Focus & Attend

Movement Strategies for Kids Who Struggle to Focus & Attend

All children come with a need for movement.  Children are naturally inclined to want to move their bodies.  Yet, when required many children can control their need for movement to attend and focus while learning at school.

However, for some children, stopping this need for movement is a challenge.  So rather than work against a child’s need for a high level of movement it is important that we give children an appropriate outlet to meet this need so that they can focus and attend to do their best learning.

There are many tools and strategies available to students that work nicely in the classroom setting.  Three tools that I recommend and have found to be most effective are fidget tools, chair or desk bands, and wobble stools.


Fidget Tools

Fidget tools are hand-held items that children can literally fidget with to encourage active listening in the classroom.  By giving children this outlet to fidget and satisfy their need for movement, they will be better able to actively listen to the teacher speaking, stories being read, classroom presentations, and class discussions.  These tools are great for students that require a lower level of movement.

Fidget tools come in a variety of forms, and I would recommend having a few options available for children to choose from.  It is also important to note that these tools should only be made available when active listening is required.  If constantly available, like all good tools, they will lose their effect and purpose.


Chair / Desk Bands


Chair or desk bands are a great tool for children that need a moderate amount of movement to focus and attend both when listening and when completing an academic task.  These resistance bands can be placed on either the legs of the chair or the desk according to the child’s preference.  As needed, children can bounce their feet, swing their legs, or kick these bands with minimal distraction to those around them. 


Wobble Stools

Wobble stools are effective for children that require a high level of movement while seated at their desk.  These stools allow for more full body movement and require some core strength to use successfully. 

I would recommend introducing a wobble stool to a child outside the classroom setting first to allow them some time to ‘play’ with the stool and discover all the fun ways they can use it!  Once they’ve had some time to explore it can then be introduced in the classroom as a seating option. 

Using a wobble stool for an entire school day can often be too much of a good thing for students so I would recommend also having a regular classroom chair available and to allow them to swap out the stool and chair as desired.


In Conclusion

When selecting appropriate movement strategies for children in the classroom it is important to consider their age, physical abilities, and preferences.  The purpose of these strategies is to support learning, not distract from it, and if a child is not willing to buy in to a strategy, then it is not going to get the desired result.

Typically, some trial and error will be necessary to determine which strategy will be most effective.  It is also important to note that children’s needs and preferences change.  Regular check-ins and conversations around the current strategies can help determine when a new strategy is necessary.  Children know what they need, and it is imperative as parents and educators that they are involved in the conversations and decision making about their learning needs.


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