Why Do Kids Slouch in Their Seats?

You see it every day in the classroom.  Kids slouched down at their desks, legs out in the aisles, head propped up on their hand, and maybe even falling right out of the chair.

Why do kids slouch so much in their seats?

There are many reasons for the slouched posture that you see when you glance up and down the rows of desks in any classroom: boredom, attention, distraction, or fatigue are probably the culprits.

But sometimes, there is an underlying reason behind the slouched posture that kids use day after day at school.

Sometimes there is a sensory reason.

Why do kids slouch in their seat? Sometimes, it's a sensory reason.

Posture, Sensory Processing, and the Classroom

When a child slouches in their seats in the classroom (or at home–You can definitely see this positioning at the dinner table, during homework, in a doctor’s waiting room, or even in church pews!) there can sometimes be a sensory reason behind the poor posture.
Why do kids slouch in their seats?


Now, it needs to be said that sensory issues are not always going to be the case with slouched posture.   Sensory processing and unmet sensory needs are just one reason that you might see slouched positions when kids sit for a period of time.  Some kids get into a comfortable position.  Sometime core weakness is an issue.  Sometimes it is just plain old boredom, fatigue, or attention.
When there are other sensory processing concerns, you can potentially see the connection between sensory processing and posture when sitting.  

Why do Kids Slouch in their Seats?  A Sensory Reason!

One possible reason for slouched posture is a relationship to unmet sensory needs.  Postural control deficits can potentially present due to poor processing of vestibular and/or proprioceptive information.
These kids may have trouble maintaining an upright posture over time.  They might seek out or avoid pressure from the desk or chair on the backs of their legs.  They might have a need for movement or a fear of falling from the chair if vestibular the vestibular sense is challenged. 

How to Help Kids Sit with Better Posture in the Classroom

There are a few sensory-based strategies that can help with posture:

Affiliate links are included below.
  • Movement seats like a disk cushion are great for allowing movement for improved attention.
  • Wobble Seat uses the idea of a therapy or stability ball in the form of a stool.  This is great for classroom use because the giant therapy balls tend to roll away from desks.
  • Allow kids to lay on the floor for some activities.  Yep, right in the classroom!  A towel draped on the floor or a yoga mat can be a softer surface for hard classroom floors.  Laying on the floor provides proprioceptive input and provides stability through the upper body and shoulder girdle.  Add a few bean bags chairs or pillows to the classroom for lounging and reading centers.  These can be just the movement and heavy work break that is needed (and CAN fit into the educational curriculum of the day) to allow for better posture when seated at a desk.
  • Try a slanted table surface.  There are a lot of slant boards on the market.  Or, you can make your own DIY version to save money. 
  • Take a quick check on desk and chair size.  The feet should touch the floor.  Add a cardboard box, taped phone books, or have the custodial department make a wooden base for feet under the desk.  Other options include a very slightly slanted surface.
What are your favorite ways to encourage better posture in the classroom or at home?
Sensory based reasons why kids slouch in their seats at school and at home.
Sensory based reasons why kids slouch in their seats at school and at home.



You may also be interested in the free printable packet, The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit.

The Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit is a printable packet of resources and handouts that can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. Whether you are looking for a handout to explain sensory strategies, or a tool for advocating for your child, the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit has got you covered.


And it’s free for you to print off and use again and again.


In the Classroom Sensory Strategy Toolkit, you’ll find:


  • Fidgeting Tools for the Classroom
  • Adapted Seating Strategies for the Classroom
  • Self-Regulation in the Classroom
  • 105 Calm-down Strategies for the Classroom
  • Chewing Tools for Classroom Needs
  • 45 Organizing Tools for Classroom Needs
  • Indoor Recess Sensory Diet Cards
Sensory Strategies for the Classroom


Free Classroom Sensory Strategies Toolkit

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.


    More Posts Like This