Adapting Homeschool for Wiggly Kids

Adapting {Home}School for Wiggly Kids

My kids are the wiggliest, squirmiest, under-the-table-, on-the-table-, rolling-around-on-the-floor-running-circles-around-the-dog-est kids I’ve ever met. And it’s exhausting to try to stay one step ahead of them when I’m with them all the time.


Adapting Homeschool for Wiggly Kids


Parenting twice-exceptional kids with sensory issues is tough. I always laughed at the title of Carol Barnier’s book, How to Get Your Child off the Refrigerator and Onto Learning.

And then I started homeschooling.

Now, I’m not the most patient person in the world, and I’m definitely not always a patient mom, but most of the time my kids and I manage to plod along companionably.

I’ve learned a few tricks that I wish I’d understood the effectiveness of when I was in the classroom surrounded by (and trying to teach) many squirmy kids at once. Maybe they’ll help you too.


Realize it won’t be perfect.

I have to let go of perfection. I’ll admit it: I am a perfectionist and a planner. But, when you live {24/7} with a gifted ADHD-er who has sensory issues, too, you have to accept that the days will not always ever look like you wanted them to.

If the day isn’t going according to plan, it’s okay to stop, take a break, or do something else. We’re in a rough patch right now — easily frustrated with each other, and so we took Friday off last week to just play at an indoor playground and laser tag place with some friends. We’ll now be taking a field trip every week until this cold weather breaks. We all need it — desperately.


Homeschool does not need to look like school.

And, really… it shouldn’t. I need to remember that we homeschool (in part) so our kids do not have to sit still and focus all the time. They can’t do it. They’ll never be able to do that… and that’s okay. My kids’ exuberance will serve them in whatever vocation God has in store for them. When one of them needs a break, or wants to invite a LEGO minifigure to help with their work—that’s okay.

Being able to honor your child’s needs and learning styles is one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling. Embrace that!


Adapting Homeschool for Wiggly Kids


Meet your child where he or she needs you to.

I need to actively search for things that stimulate my kids’ sensory needs, fulfill their need for movement, and help them function and learn. We’ve found a few things that help:

  • As Trevor has an intense need to talk, he makes regular phone calls to family and friends, shares what he’s doing with patient friends of the family when they stop by, and talks to Brian or me at night when we’ve finished reading with him.
  • Because sitting still is so tough for two of my kids, they let me know if they need to move, and go for a walk, run the stairs, or jump on the mini trampoline we have in the house. And now, even at Trevor’s weekly PSR class at church, thanks to an understanding teacher and an amazing coordinator of Religious Education who checks in with Trevor each time she sees him (and even peeks into his classroom to see if he needs a break), he runs up and down the stairs if he needs to burn some energy.
  • To help Trevor and Logan sit at home when they need to, we found this cushion. They can sit or stand on the bumpy side if they need some tactile input, or use the smooth side if they just need movement. It gives them a bit of movement in his chair without them actually moving (or falling out of) their seats.


Adapting Homeschool for Wiggly Kids


Remember that they are kids.

Most importantly, especially in Trevor’s case, I need to remember that he is a boy… and a child… and mine. Boys are wiggly. Little girls are wiggly too, but boys are really wiggly. Kids are unpredictable. They just are. By remembering that, I am a better homeschooler, mom, and person.

There is a reason God blessed me with this crazy, unpredictable, intelligent, creative, fun-loving, quirky family, and my challenge is to embrace that every time I see those dimpled smiles.


Adapting Homeschool for Wiggly Kids


Do you have a squirmy one at home? What do you do to tame the wiggles?