10.23.2010

Chairs.

When non-kindergarten teachers enter my classroom for the first time, one of the first things they notice and comment on are the chairs. Kindergarten chairs are small. Some of them are downright tiny. If you’ve ever seen a four-year-old you’d know why. They don’t take up much room and to sit comfortably, their chairs need to be sized down.

In our classroom, we’ve got a mix of chairs, from ones that look small enough for a doll to larger ones that would comfortably sit a second or third grader. When I’m not kneeling next to a sprout helping her streeeeeeetch out a word, I pop a squat in one of the many sized chairs in the classroom. Am I comfortable? Absolutely not, but changing lives isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t always cozy.

Being the small spheres of compact energy they are, many sprouts have trouble sitting for more than about four seconds. I’ve seen children find a way to ‘sit’ in their chairs in just about every way possible except the proper one.

I used to resort to endless reminders… ‘four on the floor’ (referring to the four legs of the chair), ‘bottom to bottom and back to back’ (bottom of the chair to child’s bottom and back of the chair to child’s back), and the ever witty, ‘please sit properly!’ said with a smile hoping to mask my frustration.

I’ve given up on all of these… now I just walk over to the squirmy sprout and whisper, ‘Stand up, push your chair in, and work.’ I usually get a look of astonishment. Yes, Virginia, you do not have to sit in our classroom. You can stand up, push your chair in, and wiggle and bop till your heart’s content. As long as you’re safe, I don’t care.

So the next time you start twitching and itching in your chair (am I the only one this happens to?), remember how tiny the chairs are in my classroom and be thankful your chair is at least large enough to hold you… then stand up, push your chair in and dance… but keep working and, by all means, stay safe!

8 comments:

Tina said...

So true! I find the phrase, "Sit square on your chair." to work well. Of course, that is after many demonstrations of me (I am 5'10") sprawled over one of their chairs with limbs flailing, asking, "Am I sitting square on the chair??" They think that's a riot!

Deborah said...

I noticed a little boy in one of our classes who didn't like to sit to do his work - he always stands behind his chair. At first it can look like he is not doing what he is supposed to but if you look closer - he is very engaged - just standing up rather than sitting.

Marilyn623 said...

I have also heard it recommended that some children (usually boys) may just need to stand rather than sit to be able to focus, at least some of the time. And I see that with some of my high school students, too. Some just work better while standing!

Karen Greenberg said...

I have been student teaching in 5th grade, and we have the same problems with kids and chairs. I did ask one student to stand behind the desk and work. I was pleasantly surprised at how much work got done. I think we may be on to something with that. Maybe they need to stand and wiggle and jiggle all they want. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll have to give all my students that option.

SassyGinger said...

My kids like to sit. They'll pull up chairs to the dollhouse. They'll pull up chairs to the easel. Yesterday I even had kids pull up chairs to the sensory table. Lazies!
Right now were working on actually SITTING on the chair. Our chairs are a bit bigger than the chairs they had in preschool so they accomodate by sitting on the edge of the chair - makes me crazy! I always tell them "LOOK! I gave you a present! This chair! Its all for you! Go ahead - sit on the whole thing!". Soon they will fit on these chairs but right now we just have to suffer through the "in between" stage.

Doxie said...

Children sit so often during the day...all the brain breaks and stretch breaks aren't the same as running and playing. I let them squirm, as long as they aren't bothering anyone else and are safe. During reading group, they stand around the table to read. In art class, the art teacher has them stand at the tables to work. We are meeting them where they need to be. I love those little chairs, I'm only 4'9" so they fit me great! It's good that I teach first grade.

Sam said...

I taught at a program for dyslexia/ADHD kids where constant movement was actually incorporated in the teaching method. Sit a minute or so for this part, now come to the board, now sit down, now stand up, push your chair in and orally demonstrate, now sit down and do the next part, now come around to this side of the table for the next part, now stand up, etc etc. It really kept them focused and because the movement was what they were supposed to do, they were not getting in trouble for something they could barely control. It bypasses that whole chain of events of a hyper child getting fidgety, getting in trouble, and then shutting down because they feel they're being picked on.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the ones that are sitting correctly and then just fall out of the chair for no apparent reason. I have to turn around to keep from laughing out loud.