Why won't kids listen, stop fidgeting or sit still? Over at The Military Wife and Mom blog, the reason proffered is that they can't -- they are so deprived of movement and play that they are almost jumping out of their skin. She quotes a doctor saying that parents should even think of free play as ADHD medicine.
The post is filled with great advice on activities kids might love, but the stinging insights are these:
In order for kids to listen, focus and learn to sit still for a period of time, they must develop both proprioception and vestibular sense. The most critical time to develop a child’s proprioception and vestibular sense is before age six.
She notes that those are hard to get when you're sitting in class all day -- or in front of a screen. And even when you WANT your kids to run and play, many times you will be told it's not safe for kids to do almost anything (hang upside down from the monkey bars, climb up the slide, etc.) When that happens, remember that through play you are letting your kids GROW in so many ways, including:
Proprioception is what tells you where your body parts are without having to look at them. This is the sense that helps you make sense of gravity. It’s the reason you can switch from the gas pedal to the brake without looking at your feet, or bring popcorn to your mouth without taking your eyes off the movie screen.
Without properly developed proprioception, kids can push too hard during tag, fall out their seat at the dinner table, or trip while walking up stairs. (You’ll see this a lot in toddlers as they develop proprioception, but you should see it less and less in kids ages four, five, six and beyond).
Vestibular sense provides information about where the body is in relation to its surroundings. This is the sense that helps you understand balance, and it connects with all the other senses.
When the vestibular system does not develop properly all other senses will struggle to function properly. Without a strong vestibular sense, kids will have no choice but to fidget, get frustrated, experience more falls and aggression, get too close to people when talking, and struggle with focusing and listening. Because they literally cannot help it.
Kids are built to move. Let's let them!