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Asking Students to Sit Still Can Have Dire Consequences

Sitting and limited activity can have detrimental effects on the elderly, but did you know that this can also have negative consequences on children too? What we are discovering is that excessive sedentary behavior has serious health ramifications at all ages, and one of the biggest culprits that breeds inactivity is school.
Stuck seated motionless behind desks only to come home with a full agenda of homework, results in school children spending an average of 8.5 hours of their day sitting.  In fact, sitting increases after age 8 when school, homework and technology consumes their time. What’s more, youngsters are continually asked to sit still, as movement is often labeled distracting to classmates as well as the teacher.  These learners that wiggle and squirm in and out of their seats are often considered troublesome and some of these kinesthetic kids are even place on ADHD medications to temper their excessive commotion and exuberance.
What are the Deleterious Effects of Sitting too Much on Kids?
Inactivity can result in a number of problems for school-age children:
  • Obesity: Sitting slows metabolic rate resulting in the diminished burning of calories.
  • Heart Disease: Sitting increases blood sugar and decreases the burning of fat.
  • Muscular Atrophy: Excessive sitting can cause ones muscles to degenerate.
  • Osteoporosis: Sitting can lead to poor bone density which is a precursor for osteoporosis.
  • Circulation: Sitting causes blood circulation to slow and blood can pool in the legs.
  • Inattention/lethargy: Sitting reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the brain resulting in a decline in cognitive performance.
What Can Teachers Do to Skirt a Sedentary Style?
  • Integrate activities into your lessons that allow students to get up and move around.
  • Encourage your students to get out of their seats at least once an hour and engage in a minute of exercise.
  • Provide adjustable desks for your students, so they have the option of standing or sitting on a tall stool.  Many schools are now using standing desks with a foot swing. See image below.
  • Use sites like GoNoodle that offers kinesthetic brain breaks for young learners.
  • Get involved with organizations like Let’s Move and https://www.designedtomove.org/

Bringing movement into your classroom will only help you and your students to improve attention, retention, motivation and alertness; but regular activity will lead to better test scores, improved behavior, and the integration of healthy habits.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Should ADHD Students Sit Still? New Research on Movement and Learning

Can you imagine trying to learn in a classroom all day while being bound in a strait jacket?  For many kinesthetic learners as well as kids with ADHD, requiring them to sit still during instruction is quite similar to binding them in their chairs.  Although some learners do benefit from sitting motionless, for others it is almost impossible to learn while their bodies remain idle.

Why Do Most Middle school and High school Teachers Require Their Students to “Sit Still?”
It makes sense that one would teach in a way that they, themselves, learn.  As a result, most teachers reflect upon their own ways of processing information when they create their lesson plans. I have found in my many years of conducting workshops with teachers, that very few teachers personally find movement helpful with the learning process.  In fact, I have my own theory that teacher education does not attract many kinesthetic learners, as the process to become a teacher requires little to no movement.  This hypothesis was tested when I conducted a workshop at a private middle school and high school.  When I assessed the learning preferences of the entire 200+ faculty, I was amazed to learn that only one of the teachers reported that they were a kinesthetic learner and that movement helped them to learn.  When I asked them what subject that they taught, they replied, “Gym.” Because the majority of subject-based teachers in middle school and high school don’t find movement helpful in the learning process, and often find it distracting, one can understand how difficult it can be to find teachers that are comfortable accommodating students that need to move around while learning.
What Does the Research Suggest About Movement in the Classroom?
New research that was recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology indicates that physical motion is critical to the way that students with ADHD encode and retrieve information and solve problems. Dr. Mark Rapport, a psychologist at the University of Central Florida conducted a study that was published this April, 2015 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.  The article, entitled, Hyperactivity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impairing Deficit or Compensatory Behavior? indicates that movement aids working memory and attention for boys ages 8-12 with ADHD, while these higher levels of activity resulted in lower working memory for typically developing students.  This indicates that the hyperactivity for students with ADHD has a functional role.   It would be nice to see more research that looks at the needs of other kinesthetic learners that don’t have ADHD.  They do exist, as I have worked with quite a few of them myself.
How Can We Accommodate These Kinesthetic Learners in the Classroom?
Clearly, motor activity is a compensatory mechanism that facilitates neurocognitive functioning for kinesthetic students as well as those with ADHD.  Therefore, instead of requiring students to sit motionless in their chairs, schools need to offer students the option of sitting on ball chairs, integrating adjustable desks with foot swings that give the students the option of standing, and integrating desks with exercise equipment.  In addition, these students need to be coached on appropriate and non-disruptive ways that they can move in the classroom, and teachers need to be educated about the benefits of movement for many students.
Personally, I love to integrate movement into my lessons for those that need it.  It’s amazing to see how engaged and motivated students can become when they learn in a way that nurtures their best ways of processing.  Here are some links to some of my favorite kinesthetic tools for the classroom!

If you would like to assess the learning preferences of your students and uncover the kinesthetic learners in your classroom, consider learning more about my Eclectic Teaching Approach. This publication also comes with an assessment that will help you define the unique ways of learning for each of your students, so that it is easy to accommodate and empower them. 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Kinesthetic Learners: 10 Empowering Approaches

When learning, some students find it helpful to sit quietly
at their desks, while others find that movement helps them to maintain
attention and encode information.  The needs of the latter group often
remain unaddressed in the classroom because behaviors such as tapping a pencil,
fidgeting, leaning back in chairs and asking for repeated bathroom and water
breaks can be annoying to the teacher as well as peers.  Many of
these students are kinesthetic learners and having to sit still and listen can
be virtually impossible.  So how can
teachers empower the often-conflicting needs of their kinesthetic learners? 

Here are 10 suggestions:
1)    Incorporate movement into the lessons.  Allow students to move from one “learning station” to the next where short, interactive activities can engage the students. 
2)    Permit kinesthetic learners to sit on the side of the classroom, so if they need to move around or stand, it won’t distract the students behind them.
3)    Allow your students to have a one-minute kinesthetic break in the middle of class where they can do a brain break activity, stretch, shake out their bodies or even do a few jumping jacks.
4)    Allow kinesthetic learners to stand from time to time.
5)    Integrate kinesthetic activities such as acting out lessons or let your students create plays that illustrate the concepts.
6)    Teach your students appropriate kinesthetic movements that they can make while sitting at their desk such as bouncing their legs under the table.
7)    Never take recess away from a kinesthetic learner. 
8)    Have a kinesthetic corner in your classroom where students can go to stretch on a yoga mat or roll on an exercise ball.
9)    Consider placing information to be reviewed onto balloons or balls so that the students can review material by passing the props to one another.
10) Consider getting chairs that allow students to bounce.  I have a Zenergy ball chair in my office, and I find that students that need movement love this seat.  Just be sure to place the kinesthetic learners on the sides of the class so that their bouncing doesn’t distract others.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz


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Kinesthetic Reading Remediation

Many students struggle with reading and the learning process can become discouraging and difficult.  However, integrating kinesthetics as well as other ways of learning can make the process both enjoyable and memorable.

Mastering the Vocabulary
One common problem is mastering the vocabulary behind reading. Words like syllable, vowel, and consonant are abstract terms for many young learners and without an understanding of and recognition of these distinctions, students build their knowledge on a weak foundation.


How Can You Teach the Terms in a Multisensory Fashion?
The last two weeks, I video taped a couple sessions with one of my students and then created a short YouTube video.   In these lessons, we tapped into all 12 ways of learning and as you can she, her enthusiasm is contagious.  The process addressed the following modalities:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Tactile
  4. Kinesthetic
  5. Sequential
  6. Simultaneous
  7. Reflective
  8. Verbal
  9. Interactive
  10. Direct Experience
  11. Indirect Experience
  12. Rhythmic/Melodic

Here is a link to our YouTube video or view is below. I hope you enjoy it and also integrate the ideas into your own lessons.

If you like the bouncy chairs, they are called Zenergy Ball Chairs:
Safco Products Zenergy Ball Chair, Black


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multi-sensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  

Back to School Tools and Methods for Kinesthetic Learners

Some students can sit quietly at their desks while others
seem to struggle to stay in their seats. 
This later group of learners may annoy the teacher or their peers
by tapping their pencil, jogging their leg, fidgeting, leaning back in their
chairs and asking for repeated bathroom and water breaks.  Many of these students are kinesthetic
learners and having to sit still and listen to a lesson is an uncomfortable
battle that feels like trying to tie your shoes while in a straight jacket. 
What are Some Products that
can Help Kinesthetic Learners at their Desks?    

  1. Inflatable discs and wedges can offer your
    kinesthetic learners some movement while staying seated.  These products can be placed on any
    seat and they allow students to move their hips and develop core muscles (see below for product link).
  2. Safeco, a furniture company, just came out with
    the Zenergy Ball Chair for older students and the Runtz for younger
    students.  Both of these products
    offer four stable legs with an upholstery covered exercise ball.  Unlike swivel chairs, that allow
    students to spin away from their work, this product allows students to have
    short bouncing breaks while attending to their work.  Again, this product develops core support as students
    must balance on their chair.  Likewise, Abilitations Integrations offers an inflatable Six-Leg Ball chair that offers a little bit more mobility (see below for product links).  
  3. Visual Ed Tech now offers an adjustable desk
    that allows students the option of standing at their desk or sitting on a high
    stool.  In addition, under the desk
    is an attached swinging foot rest which allow students to expend excess energy
    while working at their desk.  If you would like to see a video on this technology click here   

What are Some Teaching Methodologies that can Help Kinesthetic Learners?
  1. Have pairs of students or a student and a
    teacher toss a ball or balloon back and forth while practicing new material.
  2. Break instruction into short lessons and offer kinesthetic, brain breaks.  If you
    are searching for some energizing brain break ideas, consider purchasing David
    Sladkey’s Energizing Brain Breaks (see below for product link).
  3. Integrate movement into lessons.  For example, when teaching the adding
    and subtracting of integers, place numbers on a stair case and explain that when
    adding you go up the stairs and when subtracting you go down the stairs.  Give the students problems and allow
    them to solve them by traveling up and down the stairs.
  4. Create a place in the back of the classroom
    where kinesthetic learners can exercise their need to move. 

I hope you found these ideas helpful.  If you have any of your own ideas that
you would like to share, please post them below this blog.
Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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