The Integrated Pediatric Therapists are busy helping families prepare for at home learning. From seating, creating an environment and increasing attention, these are our top tips to set your child up for success.
- Proper positioning is key! The table should allow your child to comfortably rest their elbows at a 90-degree angle without having to reach up to access the table. Their hips and knees should also be positioned at a 90-degree angle.
- Their chair should offer good back support so your child can comfortably maintain an upright posture. Armrests can also be helpful.
- Place a stool or bench under your child’s feet to provide a secure base of support if their legs do not comfortably reach the floor. This will help them feel grounded.
- Place the computer or tablet at eye level to improve posture.
- Alternative seating and tips that can be helpful for children who have difficulty sitting still may include:
- A floor cushion
- A therapy ball, which can be placed inside of an egg crate or on top of a foam craft ring to make it more stationary and safe
- A slightly deflated beach ball to use as a seat cushion
- Tie a stretchy exercise band or bungy cord the legs of a chair as a foot fidget
- Allow for standing work breaks next to the table, at a kitchen island or countertop
- Provide a consistent space for work time so that your child can easily transition from play to school.
- Monitor the temperature in the room to ensure it is comfortable.
- Provide a visual schedule to help your child understand what is expected. Color-coding, pictures or written words are ways to adapt this strategy to non-readers, emergent readers, and readers alike.
- Visual timers like a phone app or sand timer can be helpful to keep your child on task to complete an activity.
- Reduce auditory and visual distractions. Position your child in quiet environment without background TV or people talking. Focus on creating a space with few visual distractions, like a quiet corner facing a blank wall. It can also be effective to use a screen or barrier between their workstation and the rest of the room.
- Ensure appropriate lighting to increase visual processing and alertness.
- Provide an easily accessible area with the necessary supplies your child needs to complete work activities. Placing a pen jar, for example, to the side or behind your child will provide an opportunity for them to get up and stretch.
Strategies to Increase Attention and Engagement
- Ensure your child keeps a consistent sleep schedule so they can be well rested for focused work.
- Provide your child with a healthy breakfast before they start working.
- Review materials with your child before their class. Even casually referring to a topic during breakfast will help them with recall, generalization, and focus.
- Keep a cup of water at the workstation to help provide quick breaks and increase their attention.
- Engage with your child in a heavy movement activity prior to focused work.
- Providing a crunchy snack can also be effective in increasing a child’s ability to focus.
- Explain the expectations for what is required of them during virtual or at home learning. A written or drawn set of rules may help decrease adult prompting.
- Use first-then language to help your child understand that work time will be followed by a preferred activity.
- Schedule breaks as necessary to allow for needed movement. Breaks can include dancing to a favorite song, running outside, doing animal walks, jumping on a trampoline, bouncing on a ball, etc.