‘Stop fidgeting!’

‘Sit down!’

Pity the modern teachers, without even corporal punishment on their side, trying to control a classroom with too many children in it, and teach at the same time. Harassed and overstretched, to these teachers, movement = inattention = mayhem.

In fact, movement is vital for learning. Not planned movement, as in a PE class, but spontaneous movement. The body must constantly change its centre of gravity in order to remain balanced. In turn, greater balance promotes better posture, and sharpens the mind.  What the adult in charge may see as ‘fidgeting’ is in fact an expression of the body’s natural craving for the movement that helps it to function as it should. This is something that children instinctively know.

Studies reported by the Germany-based Federal Institute for the Development of Posture and Exercise show that giving students increased opportunities to move while seated – rocking, swivelling, turning, bending – triggered far-above- average levels of attention and concentration during test taking. This is partly because movement increases blood flow, and thus the supply of oxygen, to the brain. Some schools have ergonomic seating that actually encourages movement by its design.

Movement also affects the cellular level, improving the brain‘s potential to log in and process new information.

Further, movement breaks in the classroom would also be extremely beneficial, and show recognition of the fact that sitting still for more than 20 minutes at a time is neither natural, nor comfortable, nor likely to produce the desired outcome of learning and retaining information.

This theory of ‘dynamic sitting’ really challenges the traditional classroom model of student activity and behaviour. Naturally, it’s a fine line between moving, and running amok! What do you think? Could more ‘fidgeting’ be just what our students need? We’d love to hear from students and teachers on this topic, so please get in touch!