At Rise, the first order of business for physical therapy is one that we constantly return to throughout the year: seated positioning. We want all students to be in the ideal position for meal time, circle time, and other learning opportunities. Regardless of which student we are working with, we always look at a few core points when seated on a chair or stool:
· Feet: should always be flat on the floor when a child is sitting. This gives them a sense of security and a stable base of support that allows them to move their trunk and arms with ease.
· Knees: should be bent to approximately 90° when sitting. This gives the child the ability to stand up easily from the chair, and it helps place their hips in a better position.
· Thighs: about two-thirds of the thigh should be supported by the seat, meaning the hips should be all the way back on the chair or stool. This gives the child more support, so their trunk and arms are free to move and participate in activities.
· Hips: should also be bent to approximately 90°. If the hips are bent too much, the pelvis will tilt backward and the child will be in a slouched position.
· Arms: if positioned at a table, the top of the table should come to about mid-torso height on a child (just above elbow height). This position allows them to put their hands and forearms on the table for eating or playing.
When placed in the right position, a child is able to sit up straight and better able to use their arms and hands for eating and playing. This also puts the child in the ideal position to be able to learn and pay attention, in addition to providing better positioning for speech production.
As children grow and change, we are constantly re-evaluating their seating at Rise to make sure it works best for them. A chair that fits them at the beginning of the year may not work for them at the end of the semester, or even after only a few weeks.
How we sit is just the start of how we organize ourselves and learn, which is why we consider it so important!
If you are wondering how to create better seating and positioning for your child at home, some options are to purchase a low-cost table (Ikea, for example, has a small pine wooden table and two chairs) that could be cut down to a smaller size to suit their height. A simple bench or stool could also be used as a seat at a small table if your child does not need a lot of support. You could also place a block or book under your child’s feet if their feet do not reach the floor in their current chair.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us:
Sam Sawade, PT, DPT
Lisa Swenson, C/NDT