Homeschooling the Active Child Who Never Stops MovingJanelle Knutson
Although I tried numerous times to get my son to sit still and listen quietly to the history story, I was met with fidgeting and constant interruptions. I finally gave up forcing him to join us and let him play on the other side of the room.
You can imagine my surprise when, after asking his older siblings a question about our daily reading, he shouts back the answer from across the room.
How did he hear and understand the history lesson while he was playing? Perhaps he had learned the information before? But day after day he answered my questions and joined in the discussions all while building castles, catapults, and other creations.
I soon learned that my son required a different way of learning. Sitting for several hours, reading a textbook and filling out worksheets only fostered frustration in my active child. It was time to rethink how I homeschooled him and my other active kids.
I’m discovering that my active child has an amazing ability to learn. The key is finding ways to ignite his curiosity and utilize his energy for learning.
Let Their Bodies Move So Their Minds Can Learn
Many energetic kids, like my son, learn best when they are moving. Providing opportunities for their bodies to be engaged in movement allows their minds to stay focused on the task at hand. Here are some things to try.
- Let them stand next to a table or counter to do their work.
- Provide them with (affiliate link) a balance ball to sit on at the table.
- Give them (affiliate link) a fidget toy so that their hands can stay busy while their minds are learning.
- Let them pace a room while memorizing facts, reading a book, or gathering their thoughts for a writing assignment or project.
Incorporate Movement into Learning
Look for ways to incorporate movement into daily lessons. My active kids enjoy coloring their history coloring pages while listening to our history lesson, playing with playdough during Bible time, and hopping around the room while practicing spelling words.
There are many different ways to learn outside of a textbook. Take time to discover what your active child enjoys doing, and then incorporate that activity into your daily lessons. It may require getting outside and in the backyard to get physical!
- Does your child like jumping? Draw a hopscotch grid on the driveway and have her hop out her answers.
- Does your child like tossing and catching a ball? Use throwing games as you memorize facts together.
- Does your child love running? Play a relay game in which the person who answers correctly can run towards a goal for predetermined amount of time.
- Does your child love skipping rope? Jump rope while reciting history facts.
- Does your child love the trampoline? Let him bounce while reviewing math facts.
- Does your child love swinging? You can read aloud while she swings.
Add More Hands-On Learning
Look for a curriculum that includes hands-on activities or other resources that provide ideas for creative learning. My family has found The Mystery of History Companion Guide and The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide to be very helpful in planning hands-on activities around what we are learning.
Even older children and teens can benefit from hands-on learning. Search out friends and family who have a skill they can share with your child such as cake decorating, computer programming or auto repair. Apprenticeships are also a great way for your teen to grow in a talent or interest that they have.
Schedule Shorter Lessons and Lots of Breaks
Active kids need shorter lessons and lots of breaks. Break up longer lessons into shorter chunks of time and provide lots of opportunities for movement in between each lesson. Energetic kids have a hard time focusing and retaining information if they have to sit still for a long period of time. You’ll be amazed what a short movement break can do to help regain focus.
Use a Timer
Set time limits on assignments so that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed by longer tasks. Start with a small amount of time and then gradually increase the time for each assignment as their attention span improves. When the timer buzzes, and if they were working diligently, let them take a break before finishing the assignment or moving on to another subject.
An active child will thrive in a homeschool setting when his body is allowed to move so that his mind can stay engaged. What helps your active child flourish?