Friday, October 15, 2010

Gum-Chewing as an Academic Subject

Or, how to convince your Mom to keep you readily supplied with a usually unavailable treat.

I want to get back in the habit of blogging but I don't want to spend too much time thinking about what to say.  So I'll just post things that are somehow related to what's going on somehow in my life and that may be of some sort of interest out here.

This post may encourage you that no matter how chaotic your homeschool may be as we head into November, you haven't gone so low as to propose, as I will do here, that gum-chewing ought to be taken more seriously as a meaningful part of a homeschool curriculum.

Aidan's occupational therapist recommended chewing gum to help him organize his motor and cognitive system while he's doing academic things.   What it breaks down to is that if a kid is random or spacey or fidgety while studying he may need more sensory input, and chewing is one immediate way to provide that.

I happen to have a whole crew of kids -- I think four out of the seven -- who during certain periods of their lives were or still are always chewing their pencil, their shirt or whatever toy lies within reach, especially when they are trying to sit still and think.    So I invested in some sugarless Trident.

Chewing gum can also have dental benefits, they say.  While on the other hand, I can't imagine masticated pencils and Legos (for example) doing any good at all to one's dental system. 

I asked the kids, "Do you think a piece of gum before you start school would keep you from chewing your pencils and math manipulatives into pieces, and help you focus on what you're working on?" 

Every child I asked seemed of the earnest opinion that a piece of gum every day would have all sorts of academic and writing-utensil-salvaging benefits. So we are doing it.   And it seems to be working.


  1. I have a son who does not have known disabilities. In fact he is rather bright, but he MUST have something in his hand to keep the mind focused. The other day I found him reading Ballad of the White Horse while twisting a rubrics cube. This seems a variation on the same theme- using repetitive motor activities to focus the mind. But as a MOM it drives me NUTS. I struggle with the question of should I allow or discourage this activity. I really do not know.

  2. Have you seen Suzanne's thoughts on the matter? I find them intriguing.

  3. I see Stephanie beat me to it. I was going to recommend Suzanne's post too.

    Anne, I'm the same way. Not ADHD or anything (though two of my siblings are) but I find that sometimes I concentrate better when doing something with my hands. In my freshman year at college my philosophy professor pulled me aside after class one day to express his concern about the truly elaborate doodles with which I was decorating the margins of my notebook during his lectures. I told him that the days he should be worried about my not paying attention were not when I was drawing but when I was staring intently toward the front of the room-- a sure sign my thoughts were wandering! My advice is to let your son do what works for him.


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!