Children who tend to fidget or slump when sitting on a chair sometimes lack the necessary muscle strength and flexibility for maintaining a good posture. Sitting still on a chair and holding a pencil can be very difficult for those little students. Most children are naturally curious, wiggly and fidgety, so how do you know if your child is lacking strength, and what can you do to help?
- Sitting still on a chair for long is hard for all children and almost impossible for some.
- Your child needs to have enough core and back strength to be able to sit comfortably.
- You can easily test your child’s back strength by doing the aeroplane exercise for 20 seconds.
- Tummy time and wheelbarrow walking can help build your child’s strength.
Why Sitting for Long is Hard for Little Students
Occupational Therapist, Camilla Ejsing, explains:
“Your child's body and nervous system are not made to sit still on a chair during a long school day full of sensory impressions. It’s physically hard for all children to hold themselves up against gravity for a long time while sitting still. Sometimes physical activity during the day can help, but you also need to have enough postural control and balance to be able to sit.
Most children have trouble focusing for long, but for some children it’s a real struggle to sit still and receive instructions because of their weak postural control. After 3-4 minutes of sitting, they will start slumping, fidgeting, or resting their heads in their hands or on the table.”
What Can You Do?
“If you would like to test your child’s postural control, encourage your child to lie in the aeroplane position on the stomach with lifted arms to the sides so the stomach touches the floor and legs, arms, chest, and head are lifted.
Your child should be able to hold this position for 20 seconds at the age of 6. It's a good way to check your child's school readiness,” says Camilla Ejsing.
If your child struggles with this exercise, you can easily help your little student build up some extra strength which will make it a lot easier to sit for longer. Camilla Ejsing recommends these two super simple activities:
1. Tummy Time
“Why not do some of your child’s homework on the floor together? Just as babies needs lots of tummy time, lifting their heads up against gravity, it’s also a good idea to give your little student some tummy time every day. It could be under the table in a small fort to help increase focus or just to make it more fun. The only rule is that the head must carry itself. It must not be carried by the hands or rest on the floor. Just for 5-10 minutes or it will be too hard. If you do this regularly, your child will quickly build up strength.”
2. Wheelbarrow Walking
“Wheelbarrow walking is also a great way to strengthen your child’s postural control. To do that exercise, your child should stand on all fours in front of you, and then you hold your child's legs up while he or she walks forward on the hands. In this exercise you also work with shoulder stability, which is important to ensure the best preconditions for developing fine motor skills.”
Hopefully, these two activities will help make it easier for your little student to sit comfortably for longer. However, there are many other things you can try to help your child to a good ergonomic study posture like picking an ergonomic chair and desk, trying to follow the 90-degree rule, practising fine motor skills and focus while sitting by the desk, and always encouraging frequent breaks.
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One expert is an experienced family advisor who has met hundreds of Danish families. Another expert has dedicated his entire life to researching children's well-being and development through play. And some of the other experts specialise in children's motor skills, sensory integration, and learning. Together, they inspire us to provide your children with better sleep, develop them through play, and support them when they study.
At FLEXA Insight, you will find all the experts’ valuable insights, tips, and ideas.