Saturday, July 13, 2019

Keep Wiggly Kids Quiet in Class

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Students who struggle to sit still can cause disruption in the classroom, particularly if their desk chair is a little wobbly and clanks against the floor with every wiggle and squirm. A teacher constantly saying "Stop that! Sit still! Be quiet" can be disruptive to classroom peace and calm as well—and if the movement-seeking student has ADHD or sensory processing disorder, all those verbal warnings will be ineffective and stressful. In fact, these students may need to move to stay alert, and surely no one wants them to focus all their attention on maintaining motionlessness.

Seeking Silence

So how can you balance a teacher's need for quiet and a student's need to move? Target the noise, not the movement. A scraping desk chair can be silenced with tennis ball chair leg covers. They can cover desk legs as well to mask the sounds of moving. Suddenly, motion isn't a commotion. Other silencing strategies include an area rug under a desk or folded-up paper under a too-short chair or desk leg.

Supplying Support

An easy way to minimize movement is to give a student's feet something to push against. Try a large heavy item as a makeshift footrest, such as a cinder block, concrete block, heavy textbook, or shoebox filled with rocks. You may need to add some nonstick material to the bottom to make sure the student can't slide it around noisily. Pressing feet against an immovable object may provide sufficient stimulation that the student won't feel the need to wiggle so much.
Students with disabilities are entitled to accommodations like these to make education accessible to them. Once an effective technique is found, parents should make sure it goes into the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) so that future teachers will know how to handle the movement efficiently and compassionately.

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