Alternative seating options for fidgety kids
As much as I tried to get my two kids to sit still while learning online, I’d inevitable find them wiggling around in their hardback chairs, swinging their legs or, at times, even attempting to hang upside down. Feet on the floor and butts glued to their seat just wasn’t working for them. While my two boys didn’t mind their classes via Zoom, they both said they feel that being able to move around a bit helped them concentrate.
And it’s not just my kids. Studies show that children’s learning improves when their natural urge to move is permitted with flexible types of chairs. In recent years, active or dynamic seating has become more commonplace in early education and elementary schools.
Stationary bikes, wiggly chairs, and bouncy bands attached to desk legs allow students to self-regulate and burn off excess energy — all without missing their lessons. In addition to the physical benefits that include core strengthening and muscle engagement, teachers have noticed that seating can provide needed sensory stimulation, improve students’ ability to focus, and relieve stress.
And the benefits are not only relegated to the classroom. At home, alternative seating designs can motivate students of all ages to better focus while reading, studying, or learning online and can be used at computer desks, or if your house is like mine, the dining table/homework station.
Balance Balls (also referred to as yoga, therapy, or exercise balls):
Popular in classrooms, they’re also easily incorporated as seating at home. Balance balls are especially useful for those with sensory processing disorders, ADHD, and those who enjoy the gentle rocking and bouncing movements. In a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, students with ADHD improved their focus and legible word productivity when using balance balls versus traditional chairs.
Balls come in different sizes, enabling you to select one that’s appropriate for your child. An additional option with balance balls is to use a stand or base with or without wheels.
Merrithew Stability Ball
Fun and Function Tactile Sensory Ball
Gaiam Kids Classic Balance Ball Chair
For a seat that transports easily and can be used on almost any chair, a balance cushion or disc is a great option. Small, portable, and with similar benefits as the larger balance ball, many styles also feature a texturized surface for additional sensory stimulation.
Inflatable Wiggle Seat
Gaiam Kids Balance Cushion Jr.
Wobble stools or chairs:
Similar to their inflatable counterparts, these wobbly seats can help improve balance, allow for 360-degree movement, and ensure that sitting is active and engaging. These seats can act as a grounding tool for anxiety and hyperactivity and help children decrease their need to fidget. Bonus is that they also work on core strength and better posture.
Studico Active Kids Chair
Kore Wobble Chair
flaghouse.ca search for “Ergo”
Sensory swings and seats:
These seats with adjustable pressure can give children the feeling of comfort and security. The cocoon-like support will encourage calmness and focus while reading or studying.
Pod Swing Set
Bouncy bands that attach to chair or desk legs and floor foot fidgets can help kids (and adults) with fidgety legs and feet.
Wiggle Feet Foot Fidget
flaghouse.ca search for “wiggle feet”