Children who can’t sit still find it harder than other students to fit in with classroom learning: they must sit still in a desk; they must walk, not run in the classroom. Their excess energy also makes it harder for them to concentrate and learn like other children. For attention deficit children overactivity becomes even more of a problem, because they typically lack goals or purpose to their actions. Even though they are always on the go, they get little accomplished. Children’s overactivity may be rooted in genetic or organic causes, a learned response, or a reaction to stress.
o Give children plenty of outlets for physical activity. Attention deficit children typically do not perform well in team sports. They have a hard time following rules, don’t like waiting to play, and tend to play as a one-man team. These children do better in individual, constant-action sports such as swimming and running. Studies have shown improved attention and impulse control with learning disabled children who ran 45 minutes before they started school.
o Conduct art activities which let children use their hands such as clay modeling, wood-carving, macramé, tie-dying, and finger-painting.
o Avoid scheduling more than two desk activities in a row. Make sure you give kids opportunities to get up and stretch their legs.
o Reward overactive children for sitting increasingly longer periods of time in their seats.
o Make a Day in the life of _______ video. It may help overactive children to see how little they accomplish for the amount of energy they expend. Or you can go the other way and produce an edited video, showing children calm and poised at their desks, working conscientiously on their lessons.
o Assign overactive children responsibilities like the classroom Secretary, Deputy, or whatever title they fancy. Let them wear a badge, and put them in charge of helping you. Aside from giving children legitimate reasons to get out of their desks, it helps them channel their energy into useful activities.
o Show children how to monitor their movements by using mechanical devices like a pedometer strapped to their legs or a wristactometer strapped to their wrists. Encourage them to aim for increasingly smaller activity levels.
o Choose an appropriate length of time for children to sit still. After each of these periods a timer will go off, letting them know when they can get out of their seat, walk to the back of the class, or do exercises. This gives children a controlled way of releasing their energy.
o With younger children you can try creating a Magic Snooze Machine (alarm clock), which goes off at unpredictable times of the day. Explain to children that a small elf lives inside and sleeps most of the day; but every so often he lets out a really loud snore, which sets off the magic snoozer. If children are sitting in their seats when the snoozer goes off they earn a reward.
o If you notice children getting wound up, try distracting their attention or ask them if they are having problems staying calm. Suggest children do some quiet activities such as books, puzzles, or records.
o Many overactive children have poor control over the large muscle groups in their bodies. Here are some activities you can try to help them improve their coordination: walking on a balance beam; walking backwards, forwards, and sideways; crawling like a worm or walking like a duck; balancing books on their head; going to the right, left, over, and under objects; jumping on a trampoline or skipping a rope; using hoola-hoops; bike-riding; pumping swings; doing sit-ups and push-ups; playing soccer, tetherball, leapfrog, hopscotch, dodgeball, and baseball; playing mirror images where children copy each other’s movements; holding poses in games like Freeze Tag and Statues.
o Some overactive children also have problems in coordinating how their eyes and hands work together. Fine motor skills can be improved by cutting, coloring, pasting, dot-to-dot sheets, stencils, shooting in a game of marbles, yo-yoing, puzzles, lacing boards, stringing beads, blowing bubbles, buttoning, tying, building models, Lego, building blocks, Atari games, spraying plants, pouring liquids, and typing.