3 Virtual Learning Strategies for Kids With Ants in their Pants
Children will always remember that year where they “did school from home” either half the day or all of the day. These are most definitely different times and there is no right or wrong way to do school. However, there are tips which can help students succeed, whether they be learning from a classroom or from their kitchen table.
As adults we may now have more compassion for our kids, most of us have sat through long Zoom meetings perhaps distracted or with urges to stand up and move. Granted, our kids may not get lower back pain; however, they too need to move, for their physical and cognitive well-being. Sitting in front of a notebook or screen for a long time is difficult for adults, but even more difficult for those children, especially those with a lot of energy or “ants in their pants.”
Here are 3 Virtual Learning Strategies for Kids With Ants in their Pants
1. Get the Wiggles Out. Before a period of learning or working, have children move around. If at home this can be as simple as having a 1 minute dance party or doing 10 jumping jacks. If at school, children can do a few rounds of “head, shoulders, knees and toes” or a quick game of Simon Says in their seats, to get blood moving in their bodies before turning up the focus. Educators can also implement “Brain Breaks” to give children a break from sitting down for too long.
2. Fidgets. We may all remember the fidget spinner craze from a few years ago. While those were used as toys, having fidgets are beneficial to providing stress relief. There are numerous tools that can now be used to help at home or at school.
At school, School Counselors and Child Study Team Members may have loaned or provided these tools to students. Read more on how a School Counselor’s Back of Tricks. Due to COVID-19, it is not recommended for materials to be shared. Here are Amazon affiliate links which you may want to purchase for your child’s individual use.
Velcro Strips - While it may seem simple, velcro strips are great to put underneath a desk, or even on the slide of a chromebook to keep fingers busy while learning.
Of course, the main caveat with fidgets is that it should not be used as a toy, and should always be kept below the chest to not attract attention or distract others.
3. Teach Mindfulness Strategies. Mindfulness doesn’t mean being silent, still and meditating as you float away on a cloud. Mindfulness is having moment-to-moment awareness of what is taking place in that moment. Practicing mindfulness can help kids (and adults) reach that place of awareness much more quickly. After “getting the wiggles out” or taking a brain break, it is beneficial to do a quick mindful breathing exercise to get students back into learning mode.
Below are links to resources with mindfulness tips.
As with all skills, the best way to become good at something is to practice it. Once parents and educators share the “how-to” of a few different mindfulness strategies, they can then provide children the time to practice these strategies so they can learn how to self-regulate.
How can you help kids understand the concept of “ants in their pants”?
By using literature, of course! A book I love is appropriately titled, I Have Ants in My Pants! written by Julia Cook. It teaches what “ants in your pants” actually means and reviews tangible strategies for children to learn and implement when needed.
As we prepare our kids to begin the 2020-2021 academic year, Parents and Educators must remember movement is vital for our overall well-being as it helps with better focus, faster cognitive processing, and mental clarity. Being mindful of children’s social-emotional and physical needs will help students meet their learning potential.
Best wishes to all on this 2020-2021 academic year!
Counselor De Jesus
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Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with children and families for two decades. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of Free to Be Mindful - a private practice located in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
Vanessa is passionate about helping moms, kids and educators with mindful living, mental health and personal growth through efforts including:
Host of the Free to Be Mindful Podcast which provides bite-sized tips and guided meditations to anyone working with kids
Founder of Amiga Moms, a supportive network for 21st century moms offering educational events founded in mindfulness
Public Speaking and Professional Development for parents, educators and young adults on topics such as mindfulness, building healthy relationships with kids, self care, mental health and more.