Incorporate Movement Into Your Schedule For Student Success

Sprinkling movement throughout the school day will help students maintain focus. There is a lot of good research about the increase of behaviors and ADD as more and more movement is cut out of the school day. Here are 3 ideas for adding it back into your schedule without compromising academic times.

Add movement into your school day for better focus and less off task behavior.

1. Look at your schedule

The first thing I do is look at my schedule. I am looking to see what the students are doing each half hour or time block. Are they sitting, switching tables, getting up and moving, etc. I see less behaviors and better focus in my classroom when my students are only in "sitting" groups for an hour total. For example, my direct teaching work centers (30 minutes each) are back to back which means my students have been sitting and working for 60 minutes with only a 3 minute of reinforcement time in the middle. If I follow this hour up with another activity that requires the class to sit and focus, I am guaranteeing myself that I will be dealing with off task behaviors. No thanks!

Instead, I make the next activity something that incorporate movement AND learning. For example, we might work on reading, labeling and spelling with a write the room activity. We do at least 1 write the room activity with every theme throughout the school year.

Practice reading, spelling and labeling with write the room activities.

Another example is when we practice math and gross motor skills. In this picture, students had to get the materials for one side of the room and then put it all together on the other side of the room.

Combine movement and academics for improved focus and decrease off task behavior.

You could do this with almost anything: puzzles, matching, coloring, etc.

2. Add movement into lessons

Once you have looked at your schedule overall, it is time to look for lessons that you could sprinkle in movement. For example, during morning meeting my students have many chances to get up and take turns. Get more details on what this looks like: Morning Meeting In Action and Morning Meeting Update.

Morning meeting is the perfect time to add movement!

Movement can be added in as gross motor (ex: write the room) or as fine motor (playdoh, building, etc.) If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, seek out the OT and PT. They are great resources!!

3. Structured movement times

Another option is to set aside certain times in your schedule for movement. This is time on top of recess. For our class, we have a "walking club" time. During this time the students clip on a pedometer and walk as a group. When we walk outside, we are working on walking fast and going for distance. When we walk inside (due to weather), we are working on walking in a line, hallway behavior, etc. At the end of walking club, the steps or distances are recorded. You can incorporate math by having students graph their steps and try and get more and more. Another class is adding up their steps to get to a destination (Disney). Once they have gotten all of the steps it would take to get to Disney they get a class party. 

I have had teachers tell me that they are worried that movement will cause chaos or rev their students up. Please, please, please don't let this stop you!! I would encourage you to try it out and see how it goes in your class. I have seen movement have HUGE POSITIVE EFFECTS on students' ability to focus, attend and self-regulate. If you are worried about a certain student because of sensory issues, then talk to your OT and see if anything needs to be modified. Try it and let me know how it goes!

Want to learn more ideas and tips for getting students moving? Read: Put research Into Practice By Building In Movement.

Add movement into your school day for better focus and less off task behavior.


  1. Good ideas! I like the idea of a walking club! Last school year I was a 1:1 for a little boy with behavioral challenges, and we did a lot of walking because it calmed him down. I had my FitBit and we made a project of graphing how many steps we took each day! He usually refused to do school work, so it was a fun way to get him to do a little math that he was actually interested in.

  2. Great ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them.