If you are a teacher, chances are you have come across wiggly students. Students who have a hard time sitting still whatever the reason might be.
Did you know that in order for kids to focus, their bodies NEED to move? Whether you teach in the classroom or in a private studio, this is a good thing to keep in mind. Studies have shown that that the vestibular nerve found inside the inner ear transmits sensory information that tells the body how “present” to be in response to movement. In order to activate the sensor to keep upright and present (helping focus), the body needs to move.
Think for a moment… When you are sitting still at a conference how long does it take before you start to fidget? Most of us can’t sit perfectly still for a long period of time. That is because it is important for our bodies to move!
Here are some ideas to help your wiggly students stay focused.
Do you ever have students that like to stand while they play the piano? I know the first response is to have them sit back down. But every once in a while I don’t stress about it and will let them stand. I have read articles where there are some classrooms that now have standing desks so students stand and do their work at their desk. I started standing at my laptop rolling desk a few months ago as an experiment and I can’t tell you the difference it has made in my back pain, not to mention focus.
Now for piano students we would prefer they sit while playing, obviously. Years ago whenI was having some really bad back problems, my chiropractor showed me this air balance therapy cushion and said it would help my back. So I bought it and found that it also works very well for wiggly students. Just have them sit on the cushion while they play. It is a great booster for the piano bench too! Another idea for seating is using a yoga exercise ball to sit on. I know teachers that even do this.
Sometimes when the teacher is talking, the student is fidgeting or playing on the piano when they are not supposed to. This doesn’t mean they are trying to be disruptive. Most likely it is a sign that their brain is having a hard time focusing. Some students just need something to hold on to and fidget with while they are listening. Stress balls, koosh balls, bean bags and stuffed animals are good toys to have on hand. Think of different toys that have different textures to them as some students might be sensitive to some textures.
Stretching and Exercises–
Sometimes all it takes is to stop what you are doing and stretch. This is a good time take deep breaths and perhaps some short yoga breaks. You can find some on YouTube. Mary Gae George has some great piano exercises, many of which gets students up and off the bench in her Artistry at the Piano book. You can see some examples here.
Movement and Dance–
We like to move it, move it! There is nothing like movement and dancing to help get the wiggles out and help re-focus! Students can march and sway to the music. Correlate it to a piece they are learning, practice steady beat, different tempos, learning a new style of music and so on! Have you ever tried doing “freeze dance” with students? Play some music, let them dance and then freeze in a fun and silly position! They love this!
I just created a couple really fun freeze dance games that can help with this.
Winter Freeze Dance can be used as a movement activity where they are moving like the picture that is shown. For example skating, making a snow fort. When the music stops, they freeze in the exact position the picture is in.
The Rhythm Freeze Dance Card Game is an original idea I had combining clapping rhythms and getting up to do a freeze dance.
I’d love to hear what you do with your students to help with the wiggles. Share in the comments below or on Facebook!
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