When I was working as a school psychologist, I loved wiggle worms. There was just something about their twisting and turning and bouncing and endless questioning and energy. I found them to be completely delightful… and I could see what a challenge they would be in a classroom of 25+ children.
On the morning of testing, I’d pop into the wiggle worm’s classroom. When the teacher heard who I was picking up, an unintended look of relief would pass over his or her face… just for a split second. I had a sense that, by removing this child from class for an hour or so, I had lightened the day.
I didn’t blame the teacher. I had the privilege of working with this child in a clutter-free, quiet, one-on-one session with lots of movement breaks. And even within this setting, the child struggled to focus and stay on task. Yet, these kiddos captured my heart, for how difficult it must be for them to reel it in, to sit in a seat, and to resist the urge to talk about all the things all the time! The school day must feel so long to both the wiggle worms and their teachers!
Life is funny, isn’t it?
Here I am, years later, and I am unexpectedly homeschooling two wiggle worms of my own.
All children are active, but some children burn calories while reading.
My oldest is in constant movement from sun up ’til sun down… and sometimes in between there! He is a 0-60 kid, a tornado full of boy, buzzing and whirling and talking and climbing and singing all day long.
And then there is his brother, the Ambassador of Joy. At 5-years-old, he is super-motivated to homeschool. He’s obsessed with mathematics and “doing homework”. He is hilarious and is a total charmer. He shares jokes and goofy insights and he has comedic timing… and all of this will serve him well in life. But, man, he is distracting!
Homeschooling Wiggle Worms
I have renewed appreciation for those teachers long ago because boy it can be challenging to get things done around here… especially in SEPTEMBER! Adjusting to a new routine after a summer of fun is hard for everyone, but it is especially challenging for wiggle worms.
I believe that it is important for children to be active learners. It is essential for young children to move and interact with the world around them. I’m thankful that homeschooling allows us the flexibility to learn at the kitchen island, or on the family room floor, or on the patio, or in the backyard. We are an active family and we love to hike and explore.
The problem is, there are times when you need your kiddos to just sit still for a little minute.
This year, I am juggling dueling wiggle worms. No matter how many movement breaks I provide, no matter how far apart I space them at our kitchen island, they manage to touch each other. They argue. They get goofy. They distract each other constantly. It only took a few days for me to realize I would need to divide and conquer.
The problem is: wiggle worms benefit from proximity and cues in order to stay on task. So when I first thought about setting up different learning stations in our home, I knew they would need to be placed in distraction-free zones with access to sensory tools to help my boys to focus.
These tools and tricks are not new to us. We’ve been using sensory strategies with my oldest for years. When my oldest first started eating meals in a chair, rather than a booster, he struggled… and so did we. Every night for years, he would fall out of his seat. He would spill his beverage, or others’ beverages, multiple times a day. At one point, I had a wiggle cushion for him and an old PT therapy band strapped to the leg of the chair for his feet to bounce on. Both provided the movement he craved and helped him to have some self-control. He used them for years and loved bouncing his feet on that therapy band… until he managed to snap it. I kid you not.
Since that time, he’s matured so much. We also started homeschooling, which immediately helped with attention and focus. He was no longer required to sit all the time. I am in-tune with his signals and as soon as I felt he was getting antsy, we’d take a break. He could move and run and climb and jump. I haven’t needed the wiggle cushion or the now-defunct therapy band for a long time… until now.
When I heard about Bouncy Bands, I just had to check them out.
Bouncy Bands Help to Focus Active Learners
*Disclosure: I received Bouncy Bands at no cost and was compensated for my time to write a review. I was not required to write a positive review and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only share products that I would use with my own family and those that I think other families will enjoy.
If you are homeschooling a wiggle worm or two, you already know how important it is to provide these kiddos with plenty of exercise and freedom to move. But what happens when you provide this and they still can’t sit still long enough to finish that handwriting exercise or math assignment?
The adjustment from summer to homeschool can be hard… but Bouncy Bands can help
Bouncy Bands can help those wiggle worms to focus on their seat work because it provides them with that movement they crave. As you can see from the video above, my oldest is still wiggling a lot… but he is focused on his math!
I am currently using Bouncy Bands with both of my boys. This is what it looks like:
- After our morning time, which consists of Coffee and Books followed by Math Play, we take a movement break. The kids clear their dishes and brush teeth. I might have them go outside to play with the dog for a bit, or to water the plants. The point is to get them up and moving before they need to sit.
- Because we are morning people, I have them work on any seat work early in the day. I keep assignments short with plenty of movement breaks in between.
- I sit at the kitchen island with the most distractible wiggle worm of the moment (this changes constantly, as you can imagine) and the other wiggle worm goes to my wiggle worm station. This is simply a seat in the next room. I am able to see the child, but he is facing away from me (and his partner in wiggle worm crime).
- This wiggle worm station has a chair with Bouncy Bands, and depending on how wiggly my wiggle worm is that day, I add in other sensory tools.
What Are Bouncy Bands?
They are loved by educators, parents, and – most importantly- students. Bouncy Bands provide children the movement that they crave without disrupting those around them.
Bouncy Bands consist of two pipe supports and thick, latex-free rubber. Bouncy Bands attach to the child’s chair or desk in seconds, allowing them to bounce, tap, stretch, and wiggle. Bouncy Bands helps to cut down on chair tipping and toe-tapping, both of which can be disruptive. They also provide a comfy place to rest feet for shorter students.
The best part? Bouncy Bands are silent.
How Do Bouncy Bands Work?
To install, simply slide Bouncy Bands and the pipe supports onto the chair or desk legs. We installed Bouncy Bands in seconds. Installation is so simple- even a kid can do it!
Here is a demo video featuring my two favorite (and giggly!) wiggle worms:
And here’s a helpful video from Bouncy Bands:
Bouncy Bands are available for both chairs and desks, with standard and wide sizing options. Custom sizes are available. If you find Bouncy Bands do not fit your unique desk or chair, Bouncy Bands offers a money-back guarantee.
Who are Bouncy Bands for?
Bouncy Bands aren’t just for wiggle worms!
Bouncy Bands can help:
- Active learners
- Gifted children who struggle with overexcitabilities
- Children with test anxiety
- Students with special needs and learning challenges including sensory processing disorder, autism, worry and anxiety, Restless Leg Syndrome, and more.
Bouncy Bands is the latest sensory tool in our arsenal and as helpful as they have been in our homeschool, I can see them being essential in classrooms all over the country where children are expected to stay seated for longer periods of time.
Do you want your own?
Bouncy Bands are available online. Depending on which item you are interested in, Bouncy Bands can cost between $14 and $20.00.
Books for parents of wiggle worms
Between my school psych training and my seven years parenting my tornado-full-of-boy, I have read a lot of books on ADHD. Here are some of my favorites:
- Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.
- Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues by Lindsey Biel
- Smart But Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare
- Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) by Lucy Jane Miller
- Taking Charge of ADHD: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents by Russell A. Barkley
- The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz
- Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals: A Practical Daily Use Handbook for Parents and Teachers by Angie Voss, OTR
Children’s books for your wiggle worm
Bibliotherapy can work wonders for young kids. If one of my kids is struggling with worries, or attention, or separation anxiety, or anything, I often head to the library and grab a book as the starting point for family conversation. Thankfully, there are a lot of great books out there on attention challengings and sensory difficulties including these:
- Calm Down Time by Elizabeth Verdick
- I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No! My Story About Accepting No for an Answer and Disagreeing the Right Way! by Julia Cook
- I Just Want to Do it My Way!: My Story About Staying on Task and Asking for Help (Best Me I Can Be!) by Julia Cook
- It’s Hard to Be a Verb! by Julia Cook
- My Mouth Is a Volcano!
- Squirmy Wormy: How I Learned to Help Myself by Lynda Farrington Wilson
- Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload by Jennifer Veenendall
Want to read more?
Be sure to check out these related posts:
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: Are you homeschooling a wiggle worm? What strategies have you implemented at home? Do you have any tips to share?
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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