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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Teaching High Energy Kids

A Teacher's POV
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By Lelia Shipp Wendel

My classroom this year consists of a large majority of boys, which means lots of transformers, superheroes, and dinosaurs. I asked my husband recently to teach me a little bit about transformers so I could talk to my boys about them, and include this into my learning.
I can’t even explain how excited my sweet boys were when I started chatting as much transformer “lingo” as I possibly could. The look on their face was priceless, and it made me think a lot about how I teach. As an educator, my job is to help students grow into successful learners. With Pinterest, teacher blogs, books, and classes, you can get very bogged down with idea after idea. There are many theories on the best way to teach every subject, but I feel that the most important thing to do is play to your students’ interests! 
As a teacher, it’s my job to harness all of that “energy” and use it to get lot of learning done. So how do teachers do it? How are we able to “use their forces for good?” This thought is constantly on my brain, especially with so many boys, so here are a few of my “go-to’s” for dealing with high energy.

·       Stretching: I know…stretching? Does that really work? This was a technique that I learned in college from a professor. She always has a jar at the front of the room, and if the kids are getting antsy, she pulls out a card. The card could say anything from: 25 jumping jacks, touch your toes for 15 seconds, pretend jump rope for 30 seconds, “punch out” all of the letters of the alphabet, etc. This helps to give the kids a little break, and get rid of some of that energy. I do this pretty much every morning using a song called “Lettercise” by Dr. Jean. This woman is a genius! I use a lot of her songs in my classroom, but this one is particularly exciting for the kids. We do everything from jumping jacks, punching out the letters and sounds, and “super-jogging” {a major favorite!} It’s a great way to get that energy out, and then we are ready to sit down for a story.

·       Taking deep breaths: It’s amazing how such a simple activity can help a child. If I see someone especially energetic or out of control, I walk over to them, get down to their level, and have them take a deep breath. I call this “re-starting” and 9 out of 10 times it really does help. Sometimes kids get so wound up, and they need a moment. I know I do this when I’m getting frustrated…it’s the whole “count to 10” philosophy and I’ll admit it, it works!

·        Sensory bins: A tub of beans, a bucket of rice, a bowl of oats, a blob of shaving cream. These are among my kids’ favorite ways to learn in our classroom. And yes…I said learn. I hide letters, numbers, shapes, animals, etc. in bowls of random objects and let the kids go at it. This is very helpful at young ages, because many children really do struggle with sensory issues. Sometimes a bucket full of rice and some quiet time is all they need. It’s the easiest and cheapest toy a child can have!

·       Quiet Jars: This is one of my favorite things for children who really struggle with self-control and aggression. Fill a bottle with water, food coloring, and some sparkles. If a child is really having a hard time, we will give them this bottle and tell them to shake it up, and they can come back and play when all of the sparkles are on the bottom. For some reason, watching the sparkles fall helps to relax children. It’s soothing and calming and works a lot of the time. Now I’ll admit, sometimes we have those children who just want to shake the bottle for 10 minutes and the sparkles never settle, but it works for many children.

Some of these activities will really work for your children, and some will not. But I feel that we need to teach our children strategies for learning self-control; so find what works and get them into a routine. If you’re out of control, go to your room and do 25 jumping jacks. If you’re out of control, sit down and take five nice, deep breaths. If you’re out of control, head to the sensory bin until you can calm down. If you’re out of control, get the quiet jar and come back when the sparkles have settled. Something will work; it’s just taking the time to find that perfect option.

Do any of you have ideas of harnessing the excited energy of little ones? I know I would love more suggestions, and I’m sure parents would do! Comment, and let’s share the wealth!

1 comment:

  1. Love these suggestions! Sounds like you are an awesome teacher with kids lucky to have you.