Classroom Seating – A struggle for all!
I often get asked by teachers why a child has difficulty staying seated in the classroom and ways they can help. The first thing to always look at is the environment. Is the desk height and chair height appropriate for the child? See the picture to the left for what the ideal sitting position should look like.
Always look at positioning. When a child is at a table or desk, their hips, knees and ankles should be at 90 degrees and the table should be 2-3” above their elbow. If the desk is set up correctly, the child should have their hips, knees and ankles at a 90 degree
angle, which allows them to have a good base of support so their lower body and trunk is supported. This allows them to then free their upper body (arms/hands/fingers) to do the work they need to do!
If the child is in this optimal position, but is still having difficulty sitting still, there are some other options to try. If the child has strong core muscles, they might simply need more movement, and an exercise ball (with or without a chair base), T-stool (aka balance stool), or bouncy band can all be effective strategies. If your classroom allows, standing desks are also excellent options for some kids. Just as all adults have different movement and sensory needs, so do students. In a perfect world, corporate offices would have many alternative seating options to increase focus, and likely productivity too!
There are times when a child has difficulty staying seated due to lower tone. You may see these kids fall out of their chair, slump forwards on their desk, lean their chins in their hands or lay sideways across their desk. They likely also have difficulty sitting on the ground as they have no trunk/back support. If you have a student who has difficulty staying in their space when sitting on the ground during a circle time activity, or an assembly, they may be demonstrating muscle fatigue due to lower tone. You can try a chair such as our 5-position folding chair to give trunk support and a boundary of their space. Alternatively, try sitting them with their back leaning up against a wall for more support.
And don’t forget to give frequent movement breaks! This will help the energetic child get the movement their body needs to stay focused, and will help ‘wake up’ the muscles in a lower-tone child so their body can work more effectively.