Rocking chairs in the classroom?
At Corriher-Lip Middle School in Salisbury, NC, a seventh-grade language arts teacher is trying an unusual approach to getting her students with ADHD to focus: rocking chairs. Stacey Carver understands what her pupils are dealing with, as she has the disorder herself. She is familiar with the nearly compulsive need to move and difficulty focusing common to ADHD. “I can relate to what a lot of these kids go through,” she says.
Carver at first was at a loss for how to teach her kids when they were constantly fidgeting and couldn’t pay any attention during classes. However, a friend told her about a school in Vermont which was dealing with similar issues with rocking chairs.
The beginning of the experiment
To demonstrate the effectiveness of this method, Carver’s friend donated a rocking chair to be used in the classroom. The specialized chair is sized for young teenagers, and lacks armrests so that it can be pulled up to a desk. It was immediately popular with her students. “The kids fought over it,” she said. In addition, she took note that a majority of students who used the rocking chair were the ones with histories of ADHD or behavioral issues. With about 150 students each day, Carver estimates that around half of them struggle to focus due to ADHD or behavioral difficulties. And when they sat in the rocking chair, they were quiet and paid attention.
Carver owes the success of the rocking chair to the ability it gives students with ADHD to satisfy their need for movement without occupying their attention. “Our students with ADHD typically concentrate on the movement or they concentrate on the lesson. … They can’t mesh those together,” she said.
Because of the improvement in attention due to the single chair, Carver reached out to get more for her classroom. She contacted a number of local businesses and organizations, and received a response from Linn-Honeycutt Funeral Home of China Grove, who were eager to help. The funeral director John Drye went right to his general manager at Dignity Memorial, Robert Branum. “We’re in a not-so-happy profession, so when we have an opportunity to make a difference, that’s what we want to do,” Branum said. In addition to this, the issue of ADHD is personal for Branum, as he struggled with the same condition as a teenager. Dignity Memorial donated five rocking chairs to Carver’s classroom, and Carver says she won’t stop chasing donations and funding until she can replace most of the seats in her classroom with rocking chairs.