Inside: Are you dealing with energetic preschoolers? Here are 5 important tips for a calm classroom that I learned during my years of teaching this age group.
There was a time I really struggled with the energetic preschoolers. I mean, I know little kids have lots of energy, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to handle that energy in the classroom.
I felt like there were constant struggles.
Centers time involved grabbing, pushing, sometimes running from activity to activity.
Circle time felt impossible as they wiggled and talked really loud when pointing out something in a book I was trying to read.
Small group time felt impossible as they would stay on task for what felt like 1 second and then want to leave.
Trying to get them back to the classroom from recess felt like torture. They wouldn’t line up when called. They just kept on running around.
I was a new teacher that had certain expectations, and they became really difficult while dealing with my energetic preschoolers. I was at a loss.
I would love to tell you that I found some magic solution overnight, and the problem was solved. But….nope. It took me many years of observing and noting what was working and what wasn’t. I tweaked my schedule so many times, changed the layout of our classroom, tried different types of activities.
I read books, took classes, got to know other teachers online. (Check out our free Facebook support group!)
I started learning what worked and didn’t.
Here I am, 18 or so years into teaching (I’ve stopped counting), and while I don’t have everything figured out, I think I have a pretty good handle on dealing with energetic preschoolers.
Disclosure: I was given 2 wiggle seats to try in my classroom. Affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.
Energetic Preschoolers? 5 Important Tips for a Calm Classroom
1. Make sure your schedule is balanced with quiet and active activities.
Preschool children, especially those with what feels like a never-ending supply of energy, cannot be expected to sit for long periods of time. I learned that after circle time, for example, we needed to go outside or to the gym. Then, when we returned, we could have small groups, which is once again a more focused time. After small groups we could have music and movement, getting the children up and moving.
Balancing quiet and active times is important.
Even if it’s not time to go outside yet, you can stop what you are doing, turn on some music, and invite your preschoolers to dance. Even a couple of minutes of this will release some energy so that you can return to what you were doing.
2. Provide hands-on activities that get the whole body moving.
I love to create activities that get the larger muscles in the body working. Activities that involve big motions. Activities where you can remove the chairs from the table and keep the children standing. Even better if they can walk around the table during the activity.
Here are some of my favorites:
3. Break up your circle times.
Shorter circle times are more successful for all preschoolers, but especially for those who have a hard time sitting. Our preschool class has at least 3 circle times each day: morning meeting, weather and books, and music and movement.
4. Get them moving!
When little kids need to move, they are telling you something. Rather than fight it, embrace it. If you can get the kids outside for a longer recess, or if you have access to a gym, GO. Let them run and climb and throw balls.
If you can’t do that, find the biggest area of your classroom (ours would be our circle time area), find upbeat music, and invite your preschoolers to move their entire bodies. I like to have juggling scarves on hand to toss in the air. They are soft so they cannot hurt anyone when they fall. Because, as we know, children with a lot of energy can also be great throwers.
5. Have a stash of quiet, calming activities on hand at all times.
There are those days when no matter how hard you’ve worked on the above, you still have a room filled with kids who cannot settle down. Those are days when I realize I need a new plan.
For this very reason, I make sure to know where our stash of quiet activities are. I can pull them out in a flash, get the children engaged, dim the lights, turn on some soft classical music.
Here are some ideas for you to consider: 15 Quiet Time Activities for Preschoolers
Wiggle Seat Inflatable Sensory Chair Cushion for Kids
Recently I was given 2 wiggle seat sensory chair cushions to try with our preschoolers. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was focusing on strategies to help our energetic kiddos while also putting together this post.
How the wiggle seat works:
- Helps children stay calm and focused while sitting
- Inflation level is adjustable (comes with pump)
- Causes the body to stabilize itself, improving posture
- Is a good size for kids chairs and tables (13″)
How we used it:
I first placed them at our small exploration table and showed the children how to sit on top of it. I then kept them in a special location of our classroom and the children now go and get a wiggle seat and place it on any chair they wish to sit on.
More information: Wiggle Seat Inflatable Sensory Chair Cushion for Kids
The Survival Guide for Preschool Teachers
Whether you are a brand-new teacher or one that has a background in teaching, this free survival guide is meant for YOU. It is loaded with my favorite tips for an easier, more successful school year.