How to Use and Hold Energy with Children to Improve Learning

We all want to help children learn, fall in love with learning, think thoughtfully and creatively and so much more… and then there is the abundant energy of children. For most of us, this energy can appear to be a barrier to helping them learn, when in fact, it is a deep well which can allow us to take them to new heights.

We simply have to learn how to harness their energy. Not use it, abuse it, or control it.

When I work with children, which I do often (I’m in early childhood classroom about 60 days each year), I use the following concept to greatly improve how they are able to:

  • Experience something
  • Observe what they just did
  • Reflect on what they learned
  • All in a play-based environment

Guess what? I do the same thing with adults, and adults react to this just as well as young children. Why?

  • Most adults are SO tired of the same-old same-old
  • Most adults are tired of being told only what to do
  • Most adults want to be valued more
  • Most adults really like to play, but have forgotten the sensation

So what is this concept that works so well with young children and adults?  Here you go… it’s simple. Most importantly is HOW you do this. The inflection in your voice needs to be:





Whatever the activity is, invite your students to use their energy. For example, if they are doing something physical, model for them, and say the words, “Hold your energy!” There is usually a grin on my face when I say this. Another example would be if they were experiencing reading. In the middle of the story, model for them a pensive gesture and say the words “Hold your energy!” I like to connect the “holding of energy” with “What do you see?” or as some call it, observation. This is followed by rich conversation.


After they have experienced using their energy, then model for them and say the words “Use your energy!” Go back and forth between USING and HOLDING energy as needed.

That’s it! Again, HOW you say these words matters.

Choose your inflection wisely.



P.S. a HUGE thank you to Rick Wamer, the creator of this concept! He is an amazing presenter, educator and world class artist.