A good sitting posture is important to allow children to engage in table top activities. Children who have movement difficulties find it very difficult to sit still and to maintain a good sitting posture. For these children it is imperative to provide a stable base for support in maintaining stability when completing tasks such as handwriting. If a child is working hard to maintain their posture, they are less able to attend to the task at hand. They may fidget and disrupt the class, and may even miss instructions.
Things to look out for:
- Children who hang off the side of their chairs or sit on their feet
- Those who hunch over their desk with their heads close to the table
- Those who struggle to remain seated
What we should aim for:
- The child is positioned with his hips, knees and feet at the 90 degree angle
- The table is at elbow height, this allows him to sit comfortably beside the table, preventing him from leaning forward or hooking his legs around the legs of the chair to maintain stability
You may also find our advice sheet on posture and seating for writing useful.
How you can help in the classroom:
Table height and chair size - too high or too low? It can be difficult to ensure that each child in the classroom has access to adequately sized tables and chair, particularly in larger class sizes and where there are wide age ranges within a classroom.
- Consider grouping similarly sized children where possible and having different sized tables and chairs
- If a child hunches over their desk, trying a writing slope (or lever arch file) to encourage a more upright position can help
- Children who are fidgety and struggle to sit still may benefit from an air filled wedge cushion such as the Movin'Sit
- Verbal and visual prompts: place a photo of 'good posture' on the child's desk or provide verbal prompts of 'good sitting' as required
- Consider raising tables on blocks, or placing steps under children's feet as required
- Offer movement breaks, or warm ups before prolonged sitting
- Offer opportunities for the child to improve their core stability skills during PE lessons as well as at home
Poor sitting posture greatly affects a child's ability to attend to table top tasks so you may find the following advice sheets on administering tasks, attention and concentration in the classroom and tips to consider when doing activities with a child helpful.