Monday, 29 April 2013

High energy under fives

I'm writing this as a mother who has had two high energy under fives and three others with plenty of energy but who don't, in my opinion, register as high energy. I'm not an expert so this is not about children who have a medical diagnosis relating to attention level.

This is about under fives
  • with loads of energy
  • whose concentration span is non-existent if not interested
  • who do not rest in the day
  • who need constant occupation
  • who can't sleep if they haven't had a busy day
Our first high energy child went to a Montessori nursery at two and half because that was what everyone else did and I found it difficult to provide the level of activity needed. He managed well at nursery and after a year, went on to a preschool with plenty of outside space. Holidays could be challenging but we had a nanny who took the children out, most days, while I worked.

Fast forward, fifteen years and we have another high energy child who we are home educating along with two siblings. Add to the equation, a mother who is nearer fifty than forty!
So what works?

  • The big outside at least once a day, almost whatever the weather.
 The best outside time is when he can run around freely so walks on pavements are better than nothing but open space is best. 
  • Trips out are popular especially if they can be linked to interests/favourite books.

  • Read alouds-this sounds strange but we found with our first high energy child that concentration increased and boredom decreased with many read alouds. Neither child has tended to wander around while I read although they have hung over my shoulder. We've started this early with both children and gradually built up. We haven't found that audio books work as well, except on journeys.

  • Plenty of activities-I try to set up activities before we start each morning. It seems really difficult to tell what will work. Art/craft activities sometimes work and sometimes not,

 construction toys usually work for some time, puzzles and games often work. Colouring virtually never works. Open ended painting tends to end in a muddy mess as all the colours are mixed and splodged on the paper probably useful for learning about mixing colours but not the sort of picture to grace the wall! Having said this, painting is something that happens most weeks.

  • Learning-our elder high energy child did virtually all his formal learning out of the home. This child learns at home-we are fairly relaxed and this seems to work best. Bath letters have been great for phonics, numbers were learnt from house numbers, maps are a bit of an interest after his older brother showed him his GPS app on his phone and sending letters has been a recent interest. As he gets older, he will do more formal learning currently most is done by stealth with books, games, puzzles and plenty of talking.
  • Cooking and anything that involves water are attention grabbers especially if the cooking involves licking/eating.
  • Consistent but not early bedtime routine. Before this sounds too good, I must admit that this fails whenever something different happens: birthdays, holidays, day out, Sunday etc. Most of the time this helps.
  • Computer-I have a love hate relationship with the computer. There are some educational programmes that have been particularly useful with this child but if bored he will gravitate to an open computer and find a DVD that he enjoys. This is useful on occasions when his siblings need attention but something that I wished happened less.
Websites that have helpful ideas:
Frugal fun for boys
Making boys men
Five in a Row
Imagination Tree

Activities that have been particularly useful here
Mid-morning mini-science
Fun science
Ice activities
Around the world with picture books
Five in a Row

Please do share your thoughts and experiences with high energy children.

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