Bouncing around on a chair? Chewing gum, or even the end of a pencil? Clicking tongues? Though these are all typically behaviors teachers wouldn't encourage in a classroom, they may just be the tools to help some students better focus and learn.

Children and teens with ADHD can often better focus on what they are learning in the classroom when allowed to fidget or move around, recent studies have found.

"The constant movement of children with ADHD may be distracting — but the fidgeting also may improve their cognitive performance," said the study out of the University of California Davis MIND Institute. "The take-away message: The hyperactivity seen in ADHD may help children think."

Researchers analyzed the movements of 26 teenagers and preteens diagnosed with ADHD, as well as a control group of 18 teens with typical development, as they took tests demanding focus, according to NBC News. The students with ADHD with the most correct answers had registered high degrees of movement during the test, while there was no correlation between results and movement in the control group.

"Researchers say that children with ADHD are unable to modulate their arousal systems efficiently, and movement helps them compensate for that deficit," NBC News reported.

Julie Schweitzer, a study co-author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and head of the UC Davis ADHD Program, believes this is something teachers could incorporate in their classrooms for better learning for every child — opportunities to move around, without disrupting other students' learning.

"If a child is sleepy and having a hard time concentrating, take a walk. Don't have them go on the iPad and Google something," Schweitzer told NBC. "Do something physical for a short period of time and come back. That will help them."

Another recent study out of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in April showed similar results: Hyperactive movements can raise alertness, increasing performance on tasks that require concentration.

The study observed boys age 8 to 12, sitting in a swivel chair as they completed a task requiring them to concentrate and re-order numbers. Those diagnosed with ADHD who moved and spun in the chair performed better, while those without the disorder were found to score lower the more they fidgeted, reported NPR on the study.

"We think that part of the reason is that when they're moving more they're increasing their alertness," said Dustin Sarver, lead author of the study.

Sarver's advice for teachers helping students with ADHD is similar to Schweitzer's: give them more opportunity to move around.

"When I tell a kid 'sit down, don't move, stop tapping, stop bouncing,' the kids are spending all their mental energy concentrating on that rule," he said. "And that doesn't allow them to concentrate on what we're asking them to do, which is their homework."

About 11 percent of children from the ages of 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Email: mmorgan@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @mandy_morg