Our ADD/ADHD kids are complex individuals, but there is one behavior that they are often associated with: being out of their seats. I even had one student who was constantly falling out of his seat!
This can be a big distraction to other students, so let's talk through how best to handle it.
Understanding the need to move
First things first: understand why the behavior is occurring.
- Is there a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD?
- Is she just a high-energy kid?
- Is he not engaged with the lesson?
You always want to work with their behavior, not against it. So at the beginning of the year I discuss with my whole classroom community that it's my job to provide every student what they need to be successful.
It's different for every student; it looks different and it sounds different.
Kids understand that everyone is an individual and they're willing to roll with it… once they are confident that you will be taking care of their individual learning needs as well.
Some students need more attention, some students need less and this is one of those situations where more attention is needed.
Video tips: students who are out always out of their seats
There are different types of kids who are often out of their seats. The first one I call “the mover” and he is kind of like my husband. He's a mover. He likes to pace when he's thinking and he has to be moving his hands or his body.
I have students like that every year; they just have to move in order to think.
So what I've done in my classroom for my little movers is to find a path away from the rest of the students (so it's not distracting) where they can pace back and forth.
As long I know they're listening and they're being productive while they're moving, it's all good as long as they are successful.
Of course I set expectations for these students on when they can pace, and I work with them to manage that.
You can accommodate all different movement needs; some student just need to stand and not necessarily move. My husband again: he stands all day at work and has for years. Sitting just doesn't agree with him.
For these students, you can tape off an area around their desk to give them their own area for standing while they are working.
Next up are the wigglers.
You may encounter this type of movement when helping students with ADD or ADHD.
I had a wiggler in my class one year who I thought would break her legs! She had to be constantly fidgeting and moving her legs around and often ended up with them wrapped around her chair in odd ways. When she got unbalanced and fell off her chair, her legs looked like they might just snap off.
Definitely a safety issue!
For your wigglers, try what I did: remove the chair and replace it with another desk. Just take the adjustable part of the legs out so it's about as low as a chair. Even lower is OK since your wigglers will want to kneel, too.
My wiggler could squirm around or curl up into a ball or squat on that desk. She loved it and she was very successful after that. It wasn't a danger to her, it wasn't a distraction to other students, and she could get her learning done.
A stool of the appropriate height can serve the same purpose; it all depends on what kind of squirming the kids needs to do.
Other teachers have used exercise balls, which allow a little bouncing. You just need to work with your district to see what's available for those kids who need to move.
Of course, there are some really expensive bouncy chairs that some districts may provide for students who need that constant motion in order to think. But if expense is a problem, then you do have other options.
The best thing you can do to help out your students with ADD or ADHD is understand why and how they feel the need to move and then work with their behavior so that they can be successful.