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Homeschooling a child that: Wiggles

Welcome to the ‘Homeschooling a child that:’ series where I will be sharing tips and tricks for meeting each child’s needs in the homeschool room!

In this first post I’ll be addressing the Wiggler. Firstly, I need to point out that wiggling is NOT a problem in and of itself. On the other hand, wiggling can cause problems. Wiggling is just wiggling.

Possible Problems with Wigglers

Wigglers can be distracting, distracted, or destructive if not focused properly. Many a time my coffee has been emptied, the pencils spilled, the artwork scribbled when the table shook because of our wiggler! Sometimes the wiggler is wiggling so much that they are distracting themselves, more often they are distracting others. So what do we do?

Why are you Wiggling?

I tend to avoid ‘diagnosis’ when it comes to children. But if you have a wiggle worm you may be familiar with ADD, ADHD, Spectrum Stemming, and other ‘conditions’. These are good to help describe how the brain works, and sometimes find a specific aid for a specific child. However, diagnosis can sometimes lead a child to believe they are ‘broken’, or could cause a parent to believe they know ‘all about’ the child without communicating with them. I will not be addressing diagnosis in this post, but wanted to point this out as it may help regardless of your child’s ‘diagnosis’.

The first thing you should do for a wiggler is to communicate with them. Asking questions may help you find the root of the movement. Ask questions like:

  • Do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • Do you have a lot of energy?
  • Are you nervous?
  • Why do you think you are moving so much right now?

The answers to simple questions like this, asked in friendly tones and without correction, help us to understand our children better. Once we understand the issues our child is facing we can address them accordingly.

What to do?

I’ve noticed half the kids I’ve dealt with hold their potty too long unconsciously. Hence, the potty dance. Make sure the children know they are at liberty to use the bathroom whenever they need!

The second most common wiggler is the energetic one. This one may or may not have trouble focusing when they are wiggling. It helps to make sure that this child gets stretch breaks, or dance breaks, or can stand up to read or listen. Try to remove excess sugar and caffeine from this child’s diet so they have a better chance at success. Fidget toys, blocks to build with during story time, or acting out lessons with manipulatives may help an energetic student stay focused.

An energetic wiggler may need their own study space where they won’t distract others. They should not be isolated though! Think a desk set to the side (out of the other students’ immediate line of sight but close to you), a separate work table nearby, or even a bean bag chair. They should have some liberty in movement, but never allowed to intrude on other peoples space. They will need to learn to consider others and home is the best place to start.

Nervous children have a tendency to fidget, squirm, or lose balance. So do overwhelmed children. I was both of these. This wiggling may be paired with ‘spacing out’, crying, or inability to complete work assignments. Make sure that the stress load you are putting on your child is age appropriate. You want them to succeed, but you should also learn their limits. Make sure you are encouraging. When the nervous child begins with the fidget and constant resettling, offer to take a break and come back to it later. Set a timer for the break so they don’t have to have their mind on getting back, and encourage them to do something they enjoy during that time.

These are three ways to help a wiggler: communicate liberty, offer resources, and take breaks. Note please, that the child does not have to stop wiggling. They do need to keep themselves under control though, so as not to be a distraction to others or themselves. Being a wiggler is not a bad thing, it is only a thing. Even if you get grumpy about spilled coffee, papers, etc.; make sure you are communicating encouragement and finding solutions that fit your child.

Lastly, communicate to your child that they should try to find ways to help themselves! This is a great problem solving tool to give your child, stand alongside them and be willing to try what they come up with! Make some rules for the ideas like: minimum and maximum trial time, desired outcomes, and what routines it will be in place of. You will be blessed to see your children grow as you communicate with and help them!

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