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    Hello everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve been on the forum, but today is kind of an emergency. My 4 1/2 yo dd is literally driving me crazy. She won’t stop fidgeting! She’s been joining us for school for a while now, and does really well with poetry recitation and Scripture memorization. She’s also over half-way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and is doing awesome! But during the lessons, it’s all I can do to get her to sit still. Even if she finally pays attention, she’s wiggling her toes or playing with her feet on the bottom of the coffee table. Today, she was fascinated by the drawstring on her pants and wouldn’t stop playing with it. 

    I wouldn’t have started her with school this early, but she was really interested and begged to start reading. She has caught on so quickly, and if I can get her to stay focused for even 5 minutes, she reads almost as well as my 6 yo. Just a few minutes ago, I was struggling to keep her attention, so I told her she needed to go to her room because I wasn’t going to fight with her anymore. She was really upset.

    I don’t understand why she gets so upset if I tell her she’s finished but won’t keep still and just do her reading. She always receives tons of praise after finishing a lesson, so why can’t she seem to get through one without a fight? Should I just stop trying to teach her now? Is she too young?

    By the way, she’s been a fidgeter her entire life. She never stays still for longer than a few minutes. I am reading Laying Down the Rails in an effort to cultivate her habit of attention, but I’m still not doing a very good job I guess. If you have any helpful advice, I would really appreciate it!


    Have you tried giving her something to hold while doing school?  Like a small doll, legos or even playdo.  My 5 year old is extremely wiggly and we are just introducing the alphabet to him because there is no way he was ready last year. I try to read aloud at meal times, so they are busy and thier mouths are full.  I also allow him to stand and hop if need be while writing or telling me sounds.  I have a blow up beach ball that we throw back and forth while saying the sounds of the letters and counting for math.

    At 4 I would let her go on the days when she isn’t interested and have something when she does want to learn.  I still do that this year with my 5 year old.  If he doesn’t want to participate I let him go do something else.  Maybe instead of sending her to her room you could set her up with a quiet activity like a handicraft.  Lacing, beading and puzzles would work.  I have been very relaxed with my 5 year old because my 9 year old hates school and I don’t want to push the issue with my 2nd son.  I want him to want to learn and love to read.  Since switching to CM my 9 year old is coming around and likes a lot more school subjects than before.  So, I would have to say with some children the philosophy about better late than early is true.

    Sonya Shafer

    Be careful that you’re not equating fidgeting with inattention, Lindsey dear. Some kids learn better when they’re moving physically. It helps them organize their thoughts. (Those of us who love to sit still and learn in silence find it hard to believe, I know!) Now, you’re right to want to keep her from distracting others who are trying to pay attention too. That will be a skill to learn, but I just want to encourage you not to “fixate” on the fidgeting. It sounds like she is learning and isn’t meaning to cause problems. Maybe you can come along beside her and work as a team at not distracting others while still allowing her to move. 


    I just wanted to add my .2 (and I am no expert, by any means). I have to agree with Sonya, because I have witnessed fidgeting first hand in my home 😉 I have a son who is now 7 and for the first two years of his schooling I struggled with him daily to try and keep him still! Then a more “seasoned” homeschool mom gave me some great advice. I mentioned that he was always getting into trouble because he could not sit still and she said, “Oh, please don’t make him sit still if it helps him to move while he is doing his work. As long as he is doing his work well, then don’t punish him for the movement.” She also told me to do some research on learning styles, and that was helpful to me.

    After researching, I noticed that he moved in circles when he was really having to think hard about something. Now I let him move and have seen a difference in his perfomance with things like math facts and spelling. I can’t explain it, but I know that he needs to move to get his mind focused……

    Hope this helps some 🙂


    I’m right there with you with my 4 year old. He is a big time fidgeter. But his eyes wander too! I have no help to offer. Just letting you know I understand the frustration.

    Crystal Wagner

    My dd5 is a fidgeter.  But so am I!!  Even in college, I kept a coloring book and crayons in my backpack and would color during lectures to keep my mind focused.

    Is there a time of day that she fidgets less?  My dd fidgets more the more tired she is.  So we try to do anything that needs “still attention” in the morning when she is at her best.  Even then, we stop if it is too much.  But unless it is too much fidgeting, I let her play with whatever she needs to.

    Another thought, how much activity does your dd have each day?  If we are able to consistently have activity – gym class, gymnastics, running outside, trampoline or dancing when it’s too cold to be outside – she fidgets less.


    Oh yes, I agree with Sonya!  Please remember how old these little ones are!  I understand the frustration.  I have one myself, and even my now 19yo who has always been very quiet and calm still learned and listened better when he had something in his hands when he was little.  Sometimes if I try to make my 6yo sit still, it takes so much of his concentration to do it that he can’t listen to a word I’m saying so I try to give him quiet things to do while I’m reading.  And lots of activity in between.  Sometimes I’ll tell him to make three laps around the porch (which goes all the way around the house) or something similiar and he’s able to focus more when he comes back in.  And 4 is very young.  I would work with them in a very lighthearted way right now and not push too hard.  Make it all a joy.

    And just remember, this, too, shall pass.  They’ll be grown and gone before you know it .  Don’t blink…


    Very good points!!! Don’t blink!


    I wonder if playing some classical music in the background might help?

    And I second the idea of letting her hold something in her hands. And, at her age, keep the lessons super short.


    I was thinking that something like Thinking Putty (silly putty only cooler b/c it changes colors or glows in the dark) might be a good fidgeting thing for the hands of those little movers and shakers. We got some for Christmas from Timberdoodle and the kids LOVE it!

    Also, we have blubber (from Timberdoodle) and this my kids think is soooo much better than play-doh or clay. It is lots of fun to play with, carve and mold. It might be another option, but it’s best used at a table.




    Wanted to mention that my 11 yr old is this.  If he can stand while doing his work more the better, now I wanted to make a point on the VERY GOOD thing about this.  I have 6 children the youngest being 11 mo and very petite.  So if she doesn’t want to sit still (has GERD)while doing a family study, then this is perfect for him, he can get up and walk around with her and the best part, I’m happy and he is always listening and learns so I don’t have to worry!!  From a happy mom with a wiggle worm!!Smile


    Wow! Thank you all so much for your helpful feedback. I tried something new this morning, after reading all your posts. I let her hold her favorite stuffed animal during Bible story time and told her to let Lambie listen to the story. It worked! So THANK YOU for that suggestion!

    Also, while that was a victory, I experienced a defeat this morning. I got her reading book out. She sounded out two words and just quit on me. She absolutely refused to sound out any more words. I kept encouraging her, without pressuring, and she simply wouldn’t go on. So, I told her very calmly that she could be finished. It was nothing like yesterday, where I know she sensed my frustration. I’m afraid I may have ruined her desire to read because of my frustration yesterday morning.

    While that was a little bit of a defeat, I did gain some excellent insight from my mother-in-law yesterday. She pointed out that I am a first-born and my daughter is not. We have totally different learning styles and personalities. I am a choleric personality, while she is a melancholy personality. It is very easy for me to teach my son because he too is choleric. I am positive that my frustrations are because of a personality clash.

    Are any of you experiencing this challenge? Especially if you have a melancholy child? I would love to hear how you teach their very artistic, reserved, perfectionist personalities!


    The Way They Learn is an awesome book to read to give you ideas on different ways to teach the different personalities. 


    My son likes something tactile in his hands like rubbery or squishy that he can fidget with while learning. Only sometimes that becomes a distraction and it magically turns into a spaceship or what not and he starts making noise with it and it flies over my head.Then I KNOW he’s not paying attention. But the only time he does that is when I’m reading him a story thats boring so I usually just skip to something else!


    I have a second born that is quite similar.  Her feelings may have been hurt yesterday and it might take a day or two to heal.  Let her know that even when she doesn’t feel like reading or messes up that you love her and are glad to be there with her.  My second daughter is so eager to please that if she doesn’t/can’t perform, she takes it personally.  Have you given her an apology?  That really helps at my house when I get impatient with my kids.  They are better than I about forgiving and moving on. That’s something I need to work on. At 4, she is still an early reader, so keep it light and fun

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