6 Ways to Help a Fidgety Kid Succeed in the Classroom

6 Ways to Help a Fidgety Kid Succeed in the Classroom

Is your kid struggling at school? Try these tips for helping fidgety kids stay focused.


By Maria Mora

My fidgety third-grader struggles with sitting still at school. His hands wander to other students’ desks, and his attention wanders when he’s looking for something to play with. Fortunately, his school has taken an active role in helping him succeed. They’ve allowed me to send him to school with tools that help him fidget quietly.

Even kids who don’t have developmental or learning issues can struggle with fidgeting. Regardless of why your child has a hard time staying still and focused, these six tips can help with classroom success.

Team up with your child’s teacher. Make sure your child’s teacher knows that you want to create appropriate ways to fidget. Communicate that giving your child appropriate fidgeting opportunities will help your child stay focused, and will keep your child from touching, chewing, and playing in a distracting way. For instance, you could discuss your child using fidget toys, which provide sensory stimulation including tactile input and movement for the hands, says Amy Baez, OTR/L, founder of Playapy. “Together they help to improve focus and attention and can also facilitate language production and thinking overall,” she explains.

Upgrade your child’s pencil. Use special pencil enhancements to make sure your child always has something to fidget with. Try bumpy pencil grips that give plenty of sensory input, or pencil toppers with moving parts that can be twisted and twirled quietly during class. Some special pencil toppers are even made to be chewed safely. No more gnawed-on erasers!

More from P&G everyday: 8 Healthy Habits I'm Teaching My Kid to Calm Her Worry & Anxiety

Help little legs keep moving. Ask your child’s teacher about tying a fitness band between the two front legs of your child’s desk or the two front legs of your child’s chair. A rubber band gives feedback and resistance for kids to push and kick against silently.

Create subtle sensory input opportunities. Fidget toys are very helpful for kids who crave texture and touch. “The improvement is attributed to how fidgeting can reduce stress or can arouse the body to function at an optimal level of performance,” says Baez. “Without them, a child could actually find it more difficult to maintain attention to a task, keep still in a seated position, or have difficulty formulating thoughts.” The problem at school is that many kids are concerned about standing out. This rules out sensory necklaces and other items that other kids can see. For a sneaky way to let your child get some sensory input, glue hook and loop material in a strip on the underside of your child’s desk. He can rub his fingers against it quietly.

Registration

Become a member of P&G everyday and get exclusive offers!

Become a member

Let kids play after school. Imagine heading home from a long work day and starting work all over again. That’s how kids feel when they’re expected to start homework as soon as they get home from school. Give your child plenty of opportunities to play after school. If weather prohibits going outside, try a small indoor trampoline or even a jump rope.

Get to the bottom of fidgeting. “A parent should consider having his or her child evaluated for an underlying cause of fidgetiness or poor focus in the classroom when the child’s progress in negatively effected or his or her behavior becomes a disruption to peers,” says Baez. “A parent should also consider a professional opinion despite whether it is something with which they have struggled. Parents sometimes feel that if they had the same issue as a child and survived without additional services that their child should as well. However, schools are more open to adapting environments for children and understand the benefit of addressing such behaviors from a developmental perspective.” Schedule a conference with your child’s teacher and an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Chances are, there’s nothing to worry about, but it’s better to have a professional opinion than be left guessing.

What strategies have helped your fidgety kid?


Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

Image ©iStock.com/dolgachov


You may also like:

6 Tips for Breaking Your Child’s Nervous Habits

Mom Confessional: I Let My Kids Skip School for ‘Mental Health Days’

Find Money-Saving Coupons and Print on Your Home Computer

Complete your personal information

Please fill in the information marked with an asterisk to proceed; if you want to get tailored offers and content, don't forget to fill in the optional fields.