Ideas to Help Your Wiggly Reader (Who Can’t Sit Still)

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Do you have a wiggly reader who just needs to move? I do. My oldest daughter. Which means that sitting still while reading (or playing games or eating dinner) can be almost impossible.

Normally sitting is part of reading. Right? But I wonder how to add movement to reading. Does it really have to be done while sitting still?

Hear me out.

If our kids need to move and that movement helps their focus and concentration, then can we incorporate sitting and moving with reading?


I’ve found ideas that WORK for my daughter to read for sustained periods of time; ideas that help successfully combine reading, sitting, and moving.

If it’s helpful to get a clearer picture, my daughter has slow processing speed, ADHD, and SPD.

Ideas to Help Your Wiggly Reader Who Can’t Sit Still


Inflatable Cushion

We used these exact cushion seats for YEARS — for both my kids, even my not-ADHD child. It helps kids who like to move constantly but need to be seated in a chair. Besides being great for the wiggles, I like that it helps kids learn to balance.

Bouncy Bands for Desks
My daughter’s OT recommended these chair bands to us. The goal is to keep feet on the floor (or close to it) so that kids aren’t kicking other things or putting legs and feet elsewhere. It mostly worked. I think it depends on the kid. I learned at OT that posture includes leg and feet position really helps improve a child’s handwriting.

Fidget Toys

These fidget toys help kids move …their fingers, not their entire bodies. Yes, they can be distracting. But they can also be extremely helpful for those children who are wiggly — particularly when it’s not allowed such as a classroom setting.

Sensory Indoor Swing
I could never believe that my daughter could swing and read. I mean — dizziness, much? But, these swings give kids calming swaddling and sensory movement. Of course, you don’t have to read in the swing but you might consider it as an option. It’s great for kids like mine who have sensory processing disorder, ADHD, or are on the autism spectrum.

Chew Necklace
Every child is different but for mine, chewing gum or a chew toy helped give her the sensory stimulation to focus on her reading. Before I figured that out, she’d chew her sleeves until they were totally disgusting and stretched out– or chew on all her pencils. (Gross.) If you have a sensory or ADHD kiddo like me, this can help.

Balance Ball
Give this crazy idea a chance. Sometimes the bouncing is exactly what a child needs — it worked for us. Plus, the ball develops core strength! Not only did my own daughter like to read while bounding on the ball, she learned her multiplication tables, spelling words, and more as well as sat at the kitchen counter to eat –all on the ball. (I know it sounds dangerous — so just make sure you have it at the right size and that your child can adequately balance hands-free.)

Play Tent

You already know that reading nooks and areas make reading so enticing. Kids love adding pillows and blankets to tents like this one. Once inside, they get to move, wiggle, and shift freely while reading. This works really well for my wiggly daughter. Add a headlamp for extra light and hands-free reading.


Reading in bed is so cozy and fun, even for your wiggly readers. Kids will snuggle under the covers to read with their special hands-free headlamp. Maybe even let them stay up late if they are reading? I know that’s worked for us.

Indoor Trampoline

For kids who need to move, they need lots of opportunities this in their daily lives! Try alternating reading with time on the trampoline. Kids who don’t like sitting need frequent breaks. What better place to take a break than an active activity?

helpful ideas for kids who can't sit still

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Ideas for Kids Who Don’t Like Reading
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ADHD and What I’m Learning

My Daughter’s Non-Disorder Sensory Processing Disorder

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  1. We have used that seat cushion for YEARS … for homework, for reading, and at the dinner table, too. We also like Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty [] and have recently started using an aromatherapy bracelet. Just a few drops of a calming-to-her oil and encouraging deep breaths is making a difference.

  2. Nice list! I’d also add anything having to with outdoors–rocking chair, hammock, glider–and just outside and nature play in general. Run around, build, lift, haul, and get plenty of sunlight. Hopefully at least some of that restless energy would be worn off by the time they’d need to sit down for more stationary activities like reading or schoolwork.