ABC’s of Homeschooling ~ Fidgeting During Lessons

Fidgeting drives me nuts.

I’m just going to be honest and throw that out there.

When Drama Queen was learning how to read and she was sitting on my lap, she wiggled like something crazy and it drove me batty! I wanted her to sit still because I can’t focus like that — but she NEEDS to wiggle! After I figured that out I had her sit next to me instead of on my lap and we were able to work that out.

It’s already obvious that Little Prince needs to keep his hands busy while he listens. He doesn’t sit still well either. Sometimes he just hops up and runs to his room to get another car or action fiure! That also drives me batty. He’s so funny, though. I’ll call him back and he’ll call out, “I’m listening!” As if to say, “Keep going, I’ll be right back.” Most of the time he doesn’t look like he’s listening either, and sometimes I get a little frustrated. I’m quickly finding out that he really IS listening more than he looks like he is. Most of the time he has more answers than the girls do.

It’s crazy for me to think about because I like people to LOOK at me when I’m teaching or giving some instructions. When I’m imparting something important I need to make eye to eye contact. But my son can barely make eye contact and to connect with him you really need to hold his hand or touch his arm. Drama Queen needs to be told to listen carefully and repeat it back. Princess is most like me, making eye contact, confirming what I want her to do and running off. She doesn’t like distracting noises or movements when she’s learning, either. She has her own set of challenges though. She does get bored sometimes and sometimes I catch her drifting off into space daydreaming. That doesn’t really go with this post, though. ; ) Point is, it was really hard at first for me to see what my youngest two needed and to see their fidgeting and wiggling as something other than disobeying and not paying attention.

So my frustration with it is getting better as I try to keep it in perspective and just make sure that they’re still listening. But I do want to have at least a FEW ground rules. You no hopping up and running off in the middle of the reading. I haven’t actually laid out any “rule” rules, it’s more like I’m trying to pay attention and guide them into appropriate behavior. In addition, I’m trying to work WITH their needs so that I get less frustrated – like sending Little Prince to go pick out a few action figures and come take a seat on the floor in front of me before I start reading history.

One more thing I’ve been thinking about doing is creating a little box of THINGS… quiet things… that they can pick from while I’m reading. Notsomuch during math but I read science, history and bible worldview aloud. Things for keeping hands busy, things with textures and movement and even things for visual interest to not leave Princess out. It’s a thought. I’m wondering if anyone else has tried something like this?

Fidgeting during lessons is just BOUND to happen I suppose. Maybe it’s during math for one kid and while listening for another but all kids are bound to get bored and fidget at some point. I suppose it’s probably how we handle it, and how we teach them to handle it, that matters the most — don’t you think?

Link up to the ABC's

This post is a part of the ABC’s of Homeschooling series by Dawn @ The Momma Knows. You can find all of my ABC posts here.


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November 19, 2011 9:55 am

Perfect topic: spot-on as far as what my frustrations have been centered around lately!! Thanks for the great read 🙂

November 20, 2011 12:08 am
Reply to  Stephanie

Glad I could be of service. 😉 It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. =p

November 19, 2011 12:27 pm

Yes! We’ve dealt with a lot of fidgeting through the years. I sometimes let them doodle (if we’re at the table) or finger-knit (if we’re on the couch).

Now they’re old enough that they just pace on their own. I can’t watch because it makes me nervous!

November 20, 2011 12:10 am
Reply to  Heidi

Hm. I hadn’t thought about when they’re older. Yeah, my end goal would be that they would recognize that they needed to wiggle and so pull out something appropriate — maybe I need to teach them all how to crochet or knit or something. =p

Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op
Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op
November 19, 2011 11:17 pm

I read a great book that dealt with this topic by Michael Gurian. One of his books on boys – I forget which one. He mentioned that exact thing… that kids (boys specifically) often like to be busy while reading. Giving them a ball to bounce of something else to fiddle with will help (rather than hinder) their ability to concentrate, because it gives them something to occupy their hands etc. while their mind listens. As for reading aloud, as a children’s librarian, I’ve done a lot of training and research on reading and child development. If you can get… Read more »

November 20, 2011 12:17 am

A book about boys was one of the things that helped me, too. That and remembering that my brother had to draw and doodle to pay attention when he was younger. =) (The books was Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys) I do try to involve them while I’m reading. I have them repeat names and places, I stop and ask them when a history figure reoccurs if they can remember what we last learned about him, or if they can guess why something happens a certain way before we read how the science book explains it. I sometimes… Read more »

November 19, 2011 11:58 pm

We deal with fidgeting, too. DS8 has to have his hands busy ALL the time and fidgets even when he is writing. I try to help him by marking breaks on his copy work so that he know when he can get up and play for a few minutes and then come back. This has worked better than anything we have tried to date.

November 20, 2011 12:20 am
Reply to  Naomi

That’s a good idea! My son is just learning to write and he often sits on my lap. It’s funny but unlike his sister he can actually wiggle LESS when he’s sitting on my lap and my head is bent close to his ear and we’re working on something together. I think maybe it’s the close contact. But it has a time limit. And when time runs out, it runs out! So I let him take off when his ability to focus and sit still has run off and we come back to it later. = ) I imagine when… Read more »

Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op
Kelly @ The Homeschool Co-op
November 24, 2011 12:21 am

Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check out that book… and the ideas to keep in my back pocket. =)

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