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Fast forward a few weeks and they will be thrust back into the daily routine at school, where they will be asked to sit for longer stretches of time than they have in months.
Most teachers these days are adept at using a multi-sensory approach to learning. They use hands-on activities and have children moving and changing positions throughout the school day. But there are times when kids simply have to sit at their desks and listen.
And many kids struggle with sitting for long periods of time. Here are a few reasons why a child may be having difficulty with maintaining functional posture in the classroom. These are great things to keep in mind when a child’s fidgeting in the classroom has become a problem.
-His chair/desk is too small or too big. Schools are on tight budgets and desks are often adjusted based on the prinicipal that one size fits all — NOT SO! I have walked into classrooms and seen feet dangling and arms resting so high up on desk surfaces that I couldn’t see the child’s mouth! When it comes to functional posture, this spells disaster! Prop some books or a box under the child’s feet, lower that desk or get a higher chair. Whatever you do, fix it!
-He has a weak core. Sometimes kids don’t have the core strength they need to provide the postural stability necessary to sit for those long periods. If your child leans or lays on his desk or slouches in his chair, core strength may be the issue, making sitting for long periods uncomfortable and exhausting!
Try working on some core strengthening activities at home. And, encourage appropriate posture during shorter periods of sitting or standing. At the dinner table, during each commercial break of his favorite show, etc. Proper postural alignment needs to be preached and practiced. Read more about core strength and attention.
-He needs a movement break. Break up long periods of sitting by getting kids up out of their chairs with fun movement breaks including dances, songs, and other movement activities. Movement is important for a child to feel organized, and to develop strength, coordination, balance, motor planning and sensory systems. All of these skills, which are developed and maintained through movement, are ESSENTIAL for helping your child get through those long hours of sitting in a chair at a desk.
–He may be having some sensory processing difficulties related to tactile input. Your child may be showing some signs of tactile defensiveness and the back of that chair or the desk in front of him or the kids on either side of him are just too much for his sensory system to process. Try an alternative seat or even a different spot for their desk in the classroom.
Many kids benefit from alternative seating options in the classroom. Here are some of our favorite suggestions:
-And we LOVE this idea….adjustable height desks were trialed in one classroom and reported in the NY Times. Check out how the kids even have the option to prop up a foot. Love the movement exploration and the possibility for postural changes that this encourages!
Sometimes, some small and simple tweaks and supports can make all the difference in the way kids are able to sit and attend.