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Okay. That was kind of a misleading title.  Why? Because taming the fidgets, at least the way most people do it–by telling the fidgeter to sit still, for god’s sake!–is a really bad idea.  Fidgeting is the body’s way of trying to establish better equilibrium.  This post at http://www.balancedandbarefoot.com/blog/the-real-reason-why-children-fidget explains why better than I can.  Read it now or read it later, but do, please, read it.  It’s important.

As the balanced and barefoot post infers, fidgeting is actually a good thing–if you pay attention.  It is the signal to stop trying to teach kids whose bodies need to move and DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL.  Get outside if you can.  If you can’t, at least have everyone stand up and march around the room.  Push all the desks to the walls and see who can do the best cartwheel.  Put on jazzy music and have a dance contest.  Do this FIRST, for at least fifteen or twenty minutes and THEN teach a lesson, give a writing prompt, etc.  I can pretty much guarantee students will have better concentration, more creativity and sharper writing skills if you do this one simple thing.  Why?  Because our brains aren’t in jars on a table, they’re in BODIES.  As the old Latin saying goes, Mens sana in corpore sano (A sound mind in a sound body). Therefore, reading, writing or anything else we do with our brains is a FULL BODY experience.  If the body is not “sana” from lack of exercise, the brain simply can’t function–can’t, not won’t.  Which is why ordering a student to stop fidgeting is worse than useless.   

And, that goes for us so-called grown-ups, too.  I’ve taken to setting a  timer to  remind myself to get up and move around at least five minutes every hour.  And, I make a point of going for a walk or bike ride (or, if the weather’s really crappy, putting on some fast music and shaking my booty) for at least a half hour a day.  Not always at the same time, and not always the same thing.  I’m not good at that kind of consistency.  I may take my grandson in his stroller to the park or I may ride my bike to the store, or I may go for a ramble with a friend.  But, I do something physical.  If I don’t, my writing is, frankly, crap.  If I’ve really been hitting the keyboard hard, I’ll take a whole day off and go for a hike in the mountains to balance the scales. The point is, it’s important to do something nice for your body on a regular basis, and what bodies like best is to MOVE. 

I just noticed that my foot is tapping as I type.  Time to go for a walk.  How about you?

What are some of your favorite ways to tame your own and/or your students’ fidgets?