The Link between Moving and Learning

Question: In the classroom my child is a fidgeter. The teacher writes notes home and wants me to talk with the pediatrician about her constant movement in the classroom because it bothers the other students. What should I do? -- Concerned

Answer: It can be very challenging for a teacher to have to deal with a child who is constantly in motion, and this movement can definitely be distracting for the children sitting around your daughter. The teacher probably wants you to talk with your daughter's doctor to rule out anything medically, which could also include an ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) assessment.

Children with ADHD are in constant motion. It is almost impossible for an ADHD child to remain still and seated at a desk for any length of time. Some children have impulse-control problems; even if the teacher tells them to sit still or stop talking, the behavior continues.

Some teachers cut down on fidgeting by letting children:

  • -move between lessons to cut down on movement
  • -stand and walk around the room or jump up and down at their desks
  • -squeeze a stress ball
  • -chew gum
  • -sit on an exercise ball
  • -use worry beads
  • -stand during the entire lesson

Here is a story that will give you more insight into learning and movement. John Kilbourne at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, had all of his college students sit on an exercise ball during class for his 14-week course. Students reported that the exercise ball helped them to better pay attention, concentrate, take notes and to even get better grades on their exams. His research was published in The Chronicle of Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education. Two professors, John J. Ratey from Harvard and Bob Nellis of Mayo Clinic, have pointed out that movement in the classroom definitely stimulates the brain and allows the brain to take in and process information. Finally, Professor Kilbourne said, "There is a link between moving and learning," and that "we did not evolve to sit in chairs all day. We are moving beings."