Skip to main content

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.
Movement helps learning
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.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren

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 and Learning Specialist Courses.

· Blog: www.learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com
· YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/warrenerica1
· Podcast: https://godyslexia.com/
· Store: http://www.Goodsensorylearning.com/ & www.dyslexiamaterials.com
· Courses: http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
· Newsletter Sign-up: https://app.convertkit.com/landing_pages/69400

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Copying from a Board is Ineffective for Dyslexics

Having to take notes by copying from a board or projection while a teacher is lecturing is challenging for any learner, because it requires students to multitask and constantly shift modes of learning. The process demands students to read, listen and write while making sense of the material. However, for students with dyslexia this teaching method can be disastrous. How Has Technology Impacted Note-taking?
Before the rise of educational technology, students used to copy while the teacher wrote on the blackboard, however, with the use of devices such as the Smartboard and software like PowerPoint, the words just magically appear. As a result, many teachers lecture while the students are trying to read and write from the projected image, and what often happens is confusion, shoddy notes, gaps in knowledge, and frustrated learners. But what about students with dyslexia that are also dealing with weaknesses in language processing and memory? According to the British Dyslexia Association, …

Do I have dyslexia - Explaining Symptoms and Myths for Kids

What do you do when you learn that your child has dyslexia? Should you hide this diagnosis to protect them from labels and misunderstandings, or should you tell them? If you do decide to tell them, how do you do this? Can you help them to overcome any potential fears or misunderstandings? These are the questions that I will answer in this blog that includes kid-friendly graphics. What are the Benefits of Telling Your Child That He or She Has Dyslexia?
Educating your child with dyslexia about the common signs and misconceptions can help them to:
understand that they learn in a different way than other kids that don’t have dyslexia. shed negative labels such as stupid, careless, unmotivated and lazy.correct any misunderstandings.identify with other successful people that have or had dyslexia.acquire the needed intervention and instruction in school.learn that many people with dyslexia have strengths that others do not have. Individuals with dyslexia are often:great at communicating their…

10 Free Ways to Improving Visual Tracking for Weak Readers

While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills, it can be a problem regardless of the font size.  So why is this the case?  Perhaps one of the problems is poor tracking skills.
What Exactly is Tracking? Tracking is the ability for one's eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text.  This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.  
Can Tracking be Improved? Tracking can be improved by strengthening eye muscles as well as getting your eyes and brain to work cooperatively.  There are three eye movements that need to be developed:   Fixations: The ability to hold one's eyes steady without moving off a target.Saccades: Th…