Children are going to move, in fact they move so often we wish we could bottle and keep a fraction of energy for ourselves to use! Inviting a child to use excess movement may be enough to scare any parent but it should not. Children use movement to explore their world, to form connections in regarding a new concept, and to stimulate their brains in general. Just as adults need breaks to stretch their legs in long meetings or flights, your children need the same consideration. So instead of fighting your children to hold still it may be time to join them in their wiggling.
Any parent who has taught a new skill to their child knows how quickly they can lose the child’s focus and drive but it does not have to be that way. Children love to learn, especially while moving and it does not need to be in a overly structured setting. There are opportunities in your daily routines to encourage your children to concurrently learn and move. Talk a walk and let your child ask questions about what they see, allow them to stop and investigate through touch that overly interesting rock. When you are shopping allow your child to put the produce in the bag as they count each item. Clap to each letter when you sing the alphabet. Count aloud while you both run to put on your coats or shoes. March with them in circles as you ask the child to names colors of items you point to. Allow the child to hold something that begins with the letter you are working on, allow them to twist and turn the item, to feel the weight of the object. Play simple games like Simon Says and have the child run and put one finger on an item which begins with the sound you make. Sing and dance using the rhythm to move fast, slow, high, and low. Sing songs that include movement such as Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hokey Pokey, and Wheels on the Bus to help your child learn to memorize. Play classical music and color with your child depending on the feel of the song. Beethoven and Mozart can be especially contrasting to color or dance to. There can never be enough music and dance in your child’s life!
The list of activities to provide opportunities to learn through movement is endless. Your children will never stop moving and indeed it is time we join them. The rewards of seeing the concepts click and become permanent are worth the little bit of sweat!
-Kamille Bennington (Bravo Employee)