Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting the Ants Out

One thing I have learned with preschoolers and early school-aged children…they often get ants in their pants!  Ever sit down with a child to do homework or something, they just can’t sit still.  I will often let my children stand up to do reading or worksheets but sometimes that still isn’t enough.

When the kids were preschoolers, we would often take breaks to “shake our sillies out”.  Sometimes we’d even sing the song.  That would give me another, oh 5 or 10 minutes out of them.  I know it doesn’t seem like much but kids are active and if I try to keep them down, they’ll get grumpy, then I’ll get grumpy and through the frustration, it just isn’t worth the hassle.  Plus, next time I would try to sit them down, the meltdown would happen even sooner and we’d never get through whatever activity we were trying to accomplish.
With early school-aged kids, they don’t usually want to shake their sillies but they still have trouble sitting for long periods.  Now I’m not saying one shouldn’t keep kids still for longer periods, they definitely need that skill in life as well as the virtue of patience but maybe breaks when he/she starts showing signs of ants creeping in.  Don’t wait for the meltdown – I definitely don’t want to reward that but maybe there’s a good place to take a quick activity break.

Some ideas for an activity break are to have an Ant Jar, where there is a jar or container that has activity ideas in it.  The activity could be on paper or popsicle sticks or anything.  Pick one (or five) out and do it.  Another idea might be to do some stretches or a couple yoga poses.  Sometimes we even play a quick game where I have a list of activities and the child rolls a die to see how many he/she must do.  The ideas are endless as are the activities.
Here are some activities that we do:
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Hop on 2 Feet
  • Touch Toes
  • Tip Toe Steps
  • Giant Steps
  • Baby Steps
  • Elbows to knees
  • Arm Circles
  • Hip circles
  • Ankle circles
  • Crunches
  • High knees
  • Foot slaps
After we’ve done a couple of activities, we get right back to work.  We normally will take one to two breaks during a half-hour to forty minute session but it really depends on your child’s squirm level.  I am always careful to make sure that the child understands that it’s a reward for working hard and being still.  One time a friend let it slip that it seemed that her child was a squirmy worm and so they were going to do an activity.  Well two minutes later, he got exaggeratedly squirmy and told his mom that he felt squirmy and could they do the activity again?  Kids are so smart.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping those ants at bay?  I’d love to hear from you.
Take Care, D

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