Child Refuses to Sit Still
Question: “How do we corral the student who refuses to sit during class?”
If the child’s movement is not a significant distraction to the class, then allow him or her some freedom! Many students with ADD/ADHD or on the autism spectrum need to move. In fact many kinesthetic learners learn best on their feet. Children’s ministers can most help children with special needs by reshaping the expectations of the volunteer teachers. If a child’s movement is not dangerous or disruptive, encourage teachers and caregivers to both tolerate wiggles and pick their battles. Oftentimes nonconforming children are just trying to function within their learning style and meet their legitimate sensory needs. Keep in mind that all children need movement, some just more than others.
- Allow alternative seating, utilizing a bean bag or therapy ball instead of a chair.
- Incorporate gross motor play or allow a quick turn jumping on a mini trampoline prior to story time. Many children sit still once they get their wiggles out.
- Offer play-dough, stress balls, or other manipulative toys during story time. Keeping a child’s hands busy often keeps him engaged.
- Provide three dimensional figures or a tangible object with a tie to the Bible story. Allow children to pass the object(s) around during teaching. Incorporating manipulatives into the lesson often draws in otherwise uninterested participants.
- Create activities involving bins of rice, sand, dried beans or pasta. A child may remain at the table longer with projects providing tactile sensations.
- Boredom often spurs wandering. Devise lesson plans and activities to hold the attention of children of all ability levels.
Remember, just because a child is not sitting still and maintaining eye contact does not mean the word of God is not getting through. Pray that God continues to provide the children’s ministry team creative ways to engage all children of all ability levels.
– Jackie Mills-Fernald
Jackie Mills-Fernald is the Director of McLean Bible Church’s Access Disability Ministry (McLean, VA).