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tipping on chairs

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Herringthecat, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. Herringthecat

    Herringthecat New commenter

    Hi everyone

    I am starting a secondary PGCE next year and spending quite a bit of time observing lessons in a local secondary this year . I also have three kids of my own (yrs 6, 5 and 3 at the mo)

    I've noticed this in classrooms, and in my own parenting - but grown-ups seem to be particularly worried about kids rocking or tipping on chairs.

    I remember once myself, in probably year 3 or 4, tipping right back and falling over, but I have never ever. seen anyone else fall when tipping on a chair. I do it myself reasonably regularly (including finding myself doing it sometimes when observing lessons!)

    Still, it's a constant refrain to my kids 'all four legs of the chair on the floor please' and I am doing it to the children at 'my' school, now, too. I wonder why? Is it because we're worried they will fall and crack their head open / chin themselves on the desk (depending on the direction of the tip)? Is it because it's the thin end of the wedge in terms of behaviour and needing to sit still to pay attention? Is the rocking movement of a child just distracting to the teacher? If one does it will all of them end up doing it in a way to play up to the teacher? Or are we just repeating cautions because our parents and teachers told them to us?

    I would be really interested to hear people's thoughts on this as I can't get it straight in my head. I know there are plenty of other more pressing behaviour issues, but I'm intrigued, particularly because I think for me it's a way of subtly changing position and getting more comfortable (Maslow's hierarchy of needs), and since age 7 I have been able to balance perfectly well, thank you, on the chair.

  2. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    a) They might break the chair.
    b) They might hurt themself.
    c) It's just annoying, especially if it means they have their head on my display.
  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Yeps! That's it for me.
  4. 576

    576 Established commenter

    You say you've never seen anyone fall off.
    In 14 years of teaching I have many times.
    Why do I ask them to sit with legs on the floor.
    1. So they don't fall off and hurt someone
    2. Because it weakens the chair legs and I have also seen them break off.
    3. Because if someone is swinging forwards the chair legs are sticking out and become a tripping hazard for me or anyone else walking round the room.
    4. Because if they swing & then put the chair down on someone's toe - it kills. I know because that happened to me on my pgce.
    5. To prepare them for the world of work - where I think most people do not swing on chairs.
  5. Herringthecat

    Herringthecat New commenter

    Thank you. All that makes sense. I suppose I'm mostly seeing chair-tipping in the context of my kitchen, so the toes / trip hazard things / messing up my display are not so much of an issue.
  6. something which happens load in early years ...... others tripping over chair legs swinging in the air.
  7. I have seen a y7 boy taken to hospital after splitting his head open. But it actually annoys me more when they tip forward. Twice they have came down on my foot and people have tripped over the legs many times.
  8. Speaking from painful experience, it is no fun to sit on a chair which has been damaged by constant tipping, cracking your head open on the metal leg of the desk and having to go to Minor Injuries to have wound glued!
    The poor student I was with in 1-1 session was traumatised, however, she did give me a perfect 10 for artistic merit.
    Consequently, I am now one of the annoying people who chants the mantra 'Don't swing on your seat!'
  9. First day on one of my teaching practices I was tipped back slightly on a chair (yes I can be a dreadful unconcious chair-tipper at times) and the legs slid on the polished floor and I landed on my backside in front of an entire class of kids... and it hurt!
    Passed the teaching practice - somehow - despite another incident where the backside of my trousers split right up the middle and I had to spend the day teaching with a jumper tied around my waist (and explain to the jumper around waist hating head exactly why mine was tied there)!
  10. Why not allow students to rock on their chairs...

    1. Because I have tripped over one and hurt my hand, rather severely, trying to save myself (the child never did it again!!!)

    2. Because I have seen children fall backwards and cut their head open and also fall forward and hit their chin/teeth/mouth (wow, what a lot of blood)

    3. Because it puts strain on the chair backs/legs

    4. Because I am a sensible adult and actually know what's best for my kids!!!

  11. Hi, just a thought, but in my classroom I have a sign that simply says 'six for safety' with a picture of a boy (or girl) on a chair. The six for safety highlights that all six 'feet' need to be on the floor (including the pupil's feet).
    I regularly use it for reference when asking them not to swing on their chairs.
    Also when challenging I find using a hand gesture to ask them to put the feet down with a 'thanks for putting your chair down' works wonders as you are thanking them for something that they will feel they need to do...
    Hope this helps!
    Good luck with the training!
  12. I'm in the middle of my second placement of my PGCE at the moment. My teacher pointed something out the other day which was interesting. Children need to sit up properly to have the best possible posture for hand writing. They need to be tucked under the desk with their back right up against the back of the chair.

    If they're swinging on their chairs they're not sitting properly! Add to this all the other dangers people have pointed out and it's one of the most annoying classroom habits.
  13. Perhaps a more intriguing question is why adults find problem with children engaging in activities that adults readily do themselves. As I look around my office I see adults leaning backwards, leaning forwards, sometimes even rocking gently - all of the 'actions whilst sitting' that we upbraid children for. On that basis, as children are simply exhibiting a behaviour that they can happily continue as adults, surely our problem should be with the implement rather than the action. To punish children for something that is acceptable behaviour for adults is both arcane and obtuse. As an adult, I'm allowed to have a chair that tips or rocks in any direction whilst the feet remain on the floor. Why aren't children allowed the same consideration ?
  14. When I did my PGCE placements, and then went on to work in Colleges of FE and technical colleges, where most of my classes were teenage or young adult males, chair tipping was all the rage. I agree it's quite annoying. I asked some of my older colleagues why the students did it , and any advice how to deal with it. They said don't worry, it's just a primitive display of their manhood. It made me laugh, and I never took it seriously again. Someone fell off their chair? The rest of the class laughed, and eventually they got tired of doing it anyway.
  15. Teacher's may find this behaviour annoying and potentially risky. However, children are generally bright and develop behaviours that they need to help them. Tipping a chair is helping to activate a child's vestibular system (part of the inner ear), in stimulating this it allows the child to be able to do what teacher's require of them, to pay attention. If you are concerned you can always use something under the front legs of the chair to give them that tipped position. Don't make this permanent as the brain will then switch of to the stimulus and will have to get another behaviour to get the right stimulation. Try looking up www.handle.org.
  16. The most extreme reason is the toppling over and busting their head open from hitting their head against a desk or the floor.
    Another reason, which actually happened, is chair tippers often like to spin on one leg, this student spun around and flopped down on the pencil that another student was innocently holding in his hand. It caused a nasty puncture wound. Fortunately, the parent was very understanding because this child had been doing the chair tipping and spinning for 4 1/2 years. He still tips his chair but he doesn't spin around anymore and he is more careful about holding onto the back of his chair.

  17. Use something under the front legs of the chair? A couple of bricks perhaps? Makes sense I suppose, but will it give the same sense of risk? Otherwise, simply re-design all school chairs.

  18. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    Love the troll post at 19. I tell my kids that each broken chair costs £15 (because they do) and make them stand for repeat offenders.
  19. I can't tell you how many times I've been tripped by chair legs sticking up in the back when a child is rocking their chair as I walk behind them. I have bruises on my shins from this. I've also seen other adults and children trip this way as they walk around the classroom getting supplies or books or passing out/handing in work. Quite simply, it's dangerous and not just for the chair rocker!
  20. Totally agree with all of the above, they have happened to me too. Also our deputy tripped on the chair legs and permanently damaged her back. She had to have operations, physio etc. An old head once told me she had witnessed a boy falling forward onto his pencil (which had been sharpened at both ends) and the consequences were less than pleasant. Freak accident but could have been avoided. So now I don't let them do either of those things.

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