Homeschool Help for Fidgety, Sensory Kids
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An advantage of homeschooling is that our littles are free to move around. Integrating movement has been important for all of our kids and we’ve found many ways to meet their sensory needs and school at the same time. It took a while to break away from what we thought school needed to look like and move toward what our littles needed.
Overall the idea is to meet each child’s sensory needs, so that they can be focused on their work. Hopefully you’ll find something in these tips and tricks that work in your house.
This is the easiest way I’ve found to help our kids stay focused. When I notice the wiggles set in, frustration building or the kids start to protest work we take a break. Just a minute or two of using our bodies. We might run from the front door to the back door, or do handstands in the playroom. Sometimes we play freeze dance with Alexa or see how many jumping jacks we can do in a row. I really love these sensory diet ideas from The Lean Green Bean.
I talk (and post on Instagram) about our wall gym incessantly, but it is one of the greatest grandparent gifts we’ve ever gotten. (Thanks Oma & Opa!) It is used every day in so many ways. It is a favorite though for meeting activity and sensory goals.
Standing Desk & Balance Board
We removed the expectation that you had to sit in a chair around the homeschool table. This means the kids are free to stand or sit on an exercise ball or whatever they need. This made a huge difference! (I’d love to figure out a proper standing desk solution for the kids, but that may have to wait for our next house.)
We added in a Fluidstance kids balance board as an option and the kids love it. It offers non-distracting movement, simple rocking back and forth or just trying to keep it balanced. The Big Little opts for it nearly every day while doing written work, which he often finds challenging. The Little Little just loves to practice balancing on it, often choosing to stand on it while we listen to our daily read aloud.
Weight blankets provide a deep pressure therapy by triggering lots of your nerves in a good way, like when you get a hug. Weighted blankets are simple to use and can be brought anywhere with the kids, making them one of my go-to options. The littles often drape them over their legs while seated at the computer or table, to help them feel less fidgety. They also grab them anytime they sit down to read. My only complaint with weighted blankets is that they can be warm. (This is only a problem in the summer since we are currently living in Florida.)
When buying a weighted blanket make sure you get the correct size and weight for your children. We love our kids’ weighted blankets from Huggaroo. They are fully machine washable and the perfect size for my Littles.
The sensory sheet is a stretchy sheet that slips all the way around the mattress making a pouch for your child. The Middle Little has a hard time settling down to sleep. If he wakes up in the middle of the night he almost always comes to find us. The sensory sheet seems to help him settle down and stay asleep. (It hasn’t relieved the coming into our room fully.) He also really likes to get under it during the day when he feels overwhelmed. I climbed in and the pressure is nice but not too tight. It feels a lot like being in a sleeping bag.
Our sensory sheet is also from Huggaroo. It is nice and thin, and we have it pulled so the kids can stick their feet out of the end if they get too warm, making it a great summer alternative to the weighted blanket.
All three kids ended up really loving the sensory sheet. I put it on the trundle bed for a while, so any kid who wanted it could pull it out and use it. This was a great way to offer it as an available resource. The only downside is that the sensory sheet makes taking off the fitted sheet a bit more challenging.
While we generally turn to activity to help keep the kids focused, sometimes we need to bring everything down a notch. Kid-focused guided meditations are so good for moments when everyone is overstimulated. There are so many good options out there for meditation apps and channels you can stream. This one takes some practice. You have to do it with your kids and get them used to doing the deep breathing. We faced some initial resistance.
We have been using Zenimal, a little turtle we can bring anywhere that is preloaded with meditations. There is even one for focus that helps. I like that the Big Little can use this on his own. He is able to get it and use it. Plus I can let him have it and know that he can’t navigate away from meditations – a problem we sometime have with an iPhone app or Alexa.
Parents.com had a nice list of meditation apps if you are looking for some other options.
Our kids got these adorable scented, heatable, stuffed animals for Christmas this year. You heat the stuffed animal in the microwave and it radiates heat for an hour or so. All three of my boys love stuffed animals. Two of them always want to sleep with “all” the animals piled around them. They are also all huge fans of smelling lavender and often request for essential oils to be diffused or applied to them. The Warmies have been a big win as they are soothing and portable.
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