Minds in Bloom is once again honored to welcome guest blogger Loren Shlaes, a registered pediatric occupational therapist and regular contributor to the special needs blog at Pediastaff (where this post is also being published). This is the second in a series of post from Loren about how to help students who may be challenged with attention, sensory, or other issues be successful in the classroom. Most likely, you have at least a few students with these challenges every year, but even if you don’t, the information in these posts are relevant to all teachers.
This second post is all about why is is so very important that children sit properly. It turns out there is much more to sitting than I had ever imagined!
- Frequent movement breaks Movement fires the nerve in the inner ear that tells the muscles to extend strongly against gravity, and the brain to alert itself to the environment.
- Make sure the children’s feet are resting flat on the floor There is a mechanism that sends a postural signal to the spine to extend upward when there is pressure on the bottom of the feet.
- Teach children to make sure that their sitting bones are pointing straight down while they are in their chairs. Do you know where your sitting bones are? Put your hand between yourself and the chair, and feel the large, pointy bone in your pelvis that protrudes downwards. When the feet are firmly touching the floor and the sitting bones are pointing directly downwards in the chair, a strong postural signal is sent up the spine.
Unfortunately, many school chairs are designed and constructed so that the chairs are easy to stack and store, rather than with the children’s comfort and posture as a first priority. It is actually difficult to sit in these chairs correctly. Sometimes an easy fix to this is to stick a couple of paperback books under the chair’s hind legs.
circle time. Sitting on the floor for extended periods is
difficult. Sitting in such close proximity to others without
furniture to define personal space can feel threatening. Being
forced to sit “criss cross applesauce” for more than a few minutes can be
painful, and promotes bad posture. Children often do better sitting
on their heels, or lying on their bellies with their elbows propped up, than
with their legs crossed in front of them.
|Don’t let children W sit|
legs straight in front of him and his arms propped up behind him, he is
expending so much energy just to stay upright that he has little left over to
attend to the lesson. He is sitting that way because his back isn’t
strong enough to hold him up. W sitting is harmful to the joints and
impedes the child’s development, and should be discouraged. Give the
child a chair or have him lie on his belly or sit on his heels instead.
options for circle time, like regular chairs, meditation cushions, and floor
chairs like the Nada Chair, the children can choose what will work best for
them. For a child who really can’t manage circle time, sitting next
to a grown up, a little away from the other children, with his back supported,
and a little fidget toy, or even a little activity like lacing or bead
stringing to keep his hands busy, is best.
focused. If you find yourself continually reprimanding the class for
not being able to sit still during circle time, it is time to move.
Loren Shlaes is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration, handwriting remediation and school related issues. She is also a manual therapist and a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. Her informative site won the “favorite resource for therapists” poll conducted by yourtherapysource.com. Her writing has been featured on Parents.com, and she is a regular contributor to the special needs blog at Pediastaff. She is in private practice in Manhattan.
Minds in Bloom would also like to thankPediaStaff for collaborating with Loren to make this series possible. PediaStaff places pediatric therapists in schools, clinic, and hospitals throughout the country. In addition to their highly informative blog, they also have a huge Pinterest presence with over a hundred boards pertaining to education, child rearing, special needs, and various kinds of therapies. This post can also be viewed on the PediaStaff Blog.
Did you learn something new from Loren? Do you have ideas to add? Please comment.