You know the type. You can easily recognize her in a classroom setting. The teacher’s talking, and he’s in constant motion. She’s drumming her fingers on the desk. His leg is bouncing up and down with a rhythm to match the tune in his head….except he doesn’t recognize that he’s moving.
The good news is that often, the wiggling and jiggling is an attempt to pay attention. The bad news is that the constant movement looks like distracting and annoying hyperactivity. Aside from starting gym class a little early, what can you do? Take a look at the following tried and true tips to help the ones you love who don’t love sitting:
1. Make a standing commitment. This idea worked very well for Kayla’s youngest son. When he had a task to do, he would stand at the table or desk to get things done. When he was sitting, he was distracted by all sorts of things, but standing up helped him focus on the task at hand. You may be interested in a standing desk. Or simply ask your favorite student to try standing up to work for a change; you may find it’s a simple idea that works.
2. Get on the ball. Three years ago, Robi Giuliano first encouraged her fourth grade students in West Chester, PA to take a seat on a yoga ball instead of a traditional desk chai. Guiliano never looked back: students who sit on inflatable bouncers can improve their focus while increasing their balance and core strength. “I have more attentive children, she said. “I’m able to get a lot done with them because they’re sitting on yoga balls.” Once they start sitting on a stability ball, they don’t usually want to go back to a stationary chair. The consequence of losing the privilege keeps students from “accidentally” rolling off the ball or engaging in other distracting horseplay. Sounds like a win-win situation to us! Get your balance chair for your ADHD child here.
3. Sit pretty anywhere. What if your fitness ball doesn’t reach your desk? Maybe your ball isn’t that tall. Or maybe you’d rather try a Fitball Seating Disk. Here’s a product that helps a student keep good posture and improve core strength, and it’s smaller and easier to move around. They can be used inconspicuously in a classroom, and are often part of an IEP or 504. Take a look at the seating discs here. Note that there are different shapes and sizes, and some come with sensory textures.
4. Change it up! My daughter’s choir teacher executes this idea brilliantly. She throws in an exercise when certain students’ attention started to wane. She might give them permission to stand up and stretch, or to turn around and speak 10 words to one person. An elementary school teacher might encourage kids to “shake their sillies out.” Sometimes a simple exercise can change things up enough to help a student regain focus.
5. Give a second choice. For some children, simply offering a different place to sit helps them focus again. Maybe one area is where a child listens better and another area is where she works better. Viva la difference!
How about you? Are you still sitting in the same place? Test some of these ideas for yourself and see if your focus is a little sharper. In the comments below, share your hear your own tried and true tips for jumpstarting your favorite student’s focus.