How I Teach A Fidgety Child

Teaching any child has its ups and downs, but what if the child you are trying to teach won’t, NO… CAN’T sit still? What do you do then? Over the course of my 12 years teaching in an urban setting I had my fair share of fidgety children. In fact, now that I homeschool, I have 2 fidgety children. At some point I realized I could get frustrated and throw in the towel, or I could dig deeper and find some tools to teach a fidgety child.

5 ways to teach a kid that fidgets


I am not here to say that I have it all figured out and that these tips are all you need. What I am going to share are simple tips I try to remember anytime I have to teach a fidgety kid. These are things I have not only read about, but things I have tried several times over and believe in whole-heartedly. In fact, my goal is to keep this as short and sweet as possible… because let’s face it… if you have a fidgety child you are trying to teach, YOU ARE EXHAUSTED!

You don’t have much time. So I’ll keep this short!

1. MOVE!

I know, I know… they move enough, right? Seriously, let the kid move! We love to do our sight words to exercises. Just this week I posted on instagram how we did planks and walk-ups to with our sight words. Then, go outside, go upside down, spin in circles, do flips, have a dance party… pick one or all of the above.. and move!

2. Get Informed!

Okay, this probably should be first, but I wanted to make sure you let those kids move. Find some resources you love and connect with that help you understand why your kids fidget. Knowing the reasons behind the fidgeting can help you gain patience and understanding, therefore not getting as exhausted with your fidgeter. I know they are big, scary words… but learning about vestibular and proprioceptive input was invaluable to me in learning about why my kids fidget.

3. Heavy work!

Never heard of heavy work? Man, this was a life saver for us. This can be something as simple as carrying the copy paper to the office for you before taking the spelling test, doing a load of laundry before sitting to do homework. I’ve made a free printable of chores that can be done at home, at school and even outside to get you started.

4. Fidget!

Ha. Did you see that? I told you to let your fidgety kid fidget. I know it might sound crazy… you are trying to get them to stop fidgeting aren’t you? Sorry. I can’t really help you with that, but I can help you get your kids to learn and focus their fidgeting in a positive way. So during reading lessons, class discussions, and homework, give that kid something in their hands. Our sensory toolkit has something to address all of the 7 senses and works great with a fidgety child!

5. Set Limits!

I’m not saying that the kids are fidgeting because you don’t have discipline. Instead its just the opposite. I bet you are awesome at setting limits. Your fidgeter needs to have set limits on what you expect just like with all behaviors. Let them know what it looks like ahead of time, what you will allow and not allow, and practice. For example, I used to have a student who COULD NOT sit down at his desk… so, I let him stand. However, I set limits and told him what I expected to see while he was at his desk. He knew if he was not doing the work expected, even though I was giving him movement, I would take away the choice to stand.

Teaching Fidgety Kids

Honestly, I could go on and on with tips and tricks on this subject… but I remembered I told you I would keep this short and sweet! So I’m passing it off to you!

Tell me, how do you teach a fidgety child?

I can’t wait to hear! Connect with me on FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestInstagram or subscribe by email so you don’t miss our next adventures.

Looking for more ideas for how to teach your child? IHomeschool Network has gathered several bloggers together today to share more ideas for teaching specific learning styles and learning needs. Hop on over and check out the other awesome ideas shared today!


Teaching Various Learning Styles


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24 thoughts on “How I Teach A Fidgety Child”

  1. angie

    I am the fidgety one, so gee. I wonder where my kids get it from. My husband was as well in school, so, because we were renovating, and built our home, (not everyone has this luxury) we built our desks in the office/ schoolroom area at counter height. We can stand when we need to, and we use bar stools as our chairs. my friend bought a tall table for this reason too. It works great for her fidgety kids as well. And really, our bodies are made for motion. we just need to learn to harvest that motion for greatest output or input, depending on the activity we are on at the mo
    ment. great ideas in your article. helpful.
    thanks. Angie

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      So glad this was helpful. I love the stool idea!

  2. Can you please forward this to my 3rd graders teacher?! LOL great tips!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Sure thing! 🙂

    2. L t

      Ha! My son’s second grader teacher really need this too!

  3. These are great tips, Dayna! I have homeschooled my 2 boys since the beginning. One of them, in particular, was a fidgeter. He has grown out of it, for the most part, but I found that exercise before starting school, lots of active breaks, and chores all helped him.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Oh thank you! SO glad you liked it!

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  5. Rebecca

    Love this. I’m a kindergarten teacher, and we never sit still (and even “still” is a loose definition) for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. I fidget too, how can I get annoyed with the kids for not sitting still when I can’t do it myself? We do plenty of movements and transition activities to keep the wiggles at bay and to keep our brains ready to learn!

  6. Hi Dayna,

    Thank you for mentioning the article, Why Kids Fidget and having parents/teachers seek knowledge on this subject first prior to giving strategies. I think your suggestions are both practical and sound in sensory integration theory. Great work!


    Angela Hanscom, MOT, OTR/L

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      That means a ton! Thank you so much! I would love to work with you in the future, possibly interview you for my new project, and many other things to come! Glad you liked the post!

  7. Great article! I can’t really relate. Just this week I decided to let my child play with something in her hand while doing her work and it really helped!

  8. Pamela Hockin

    I am a fidgety mum with an incredibly fidgety 6yr old. My fidgeting has always been with something in my hands – plasticine, a pebble, a doodle pad but my girl just doesn’t do still at all, ever. Even mealtimes tend to be a buffet because she can’t stay in o e place and concentrate on her food.
    Luckily, being a creatI’ve fidget myself, I know she concentrates better while wriggling… If I’m told to put down what I’m fidgeting with I try so hard not to fidget I can’t concentrate on anything else, my girl is the same. Explaining that to others is hard going.

  9. heather

    Thanks for this article. I use ball chairs and fit disks for my students. I sit on one too as a the teacher. I move them around a lot through the day. I deliever short bursts of instruction at their desks and in a certain spot on our carpEt. I try to refrain from talking more than 10 mins before having students do an activity or teach their partner. I use wholebrain teaching strategies to keep my students engaged and focused.

    1. heather

      I use, a free site, for our brain/ brain breaks in my 3rd grade classroom.

      1. Lemon Lime Adventures

        I have just found out about this site recently and I think it is fantastic.

    2. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Those are wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Terry

    My youngest was very fidgety. While homeschooling, I learned that he worked much better with his hands busy. He wore out several hacky sack balls, just tossing them from hand to hand or up and down in one hand. Made a huge difference in him being able to focus. He also moved from the chair to the floor, to standing, back to the chair; whatever made him pay attention to the material. I just bought a hacky sack ball for a grandson, who is also fidgety.
    Great article.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      What an awesome tip!

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