Although a major focus of the standing desk community has been the adoption of the stand-up workstations at offices and workplaces (due to the higher age range), there has been a movement towards putting stand-up desks in classrooms as well. The reasoning: if stand-up desks increase alertness, engagement, and productivity in offices, shouldn’t they do the same in classrooms?
A recent study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health deduces that “standing workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems and increase students’ attention or academic behavioral engagement by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (like standing) that breaks up the monotony of seated work.” The study, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion, involved almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which is equivalent to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time. Furthermore, previous studies at Texas A&M have shown that the desks can help reduce obesity, with students using standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children).
Since the studies have been published, there has been a movement of schools actually bringing in stand up desks to their classrooms. Crossfit’s Kelly Starrett, with help from DonorsChoose, is pioneering a new classroom style that’s improving students’ health and focus. In particular, by the beginning of the school year next August, there will be no chairs in any of the classrooms at Vallecito Elementary in San Rafael, California. This drastic change is based on the basic facts that many kids are sedentary as much as 80 to 90 percent of the time they’re awake, and over a lifetime, sitting for more than six hours a day increases the risk of death. Currently the school is raising funds for the new desks, and the Starretts have launched a nonprofit called StandUpKids to help spur the change in other schools. The couple hopes to raise a $1 million matching grant to support donations for individual schools across the country. The website StandUpKids.org walks you through the science behind the benefits of standing desks for students and also makes a case for people to support these programs. In 10 years, the Starretts hope that every public school in the U.S. is standing.
Another effort to bring desks into schools, although on a much smaller scale, involves three senior high school students bringing desks to a nearby elementary school. The three started “Stand Up Batavia,” a community service project to bring standing workstations into Batavia Elementary School. To start off, they hope to bring 18 desks (accompanied by stools) into three fourth grade classrooms. They hope to raise the $11,520 needed by the end of the year.
As there is a growing number of standing workstations in offices, there will be a subsequent increase in the number of workstations in classrooms as parents realize the great benefits from standing at work throughout the day. Also, the publishing of more studies regarding the effects of standing in the classroom on children will further push the concerned parent to make sure a change is made in their childrens’ classroom. A perfect workstation for your child to make the transition to standing at home or in the classroom is the Standee Classic. Schools and parents should also consider an ant-fatigue mat like the Standee Anti-Fatigue Mat to ensure comfort while the children stand. It will take a mass movement for the Starretts to achieve their goal of every public school in U.S. standing in the next 10 years, but it surely can be done. Does your child’s school have any stand up workstations? After reading this blog would you like them to? Give your child’s school a call and find out. It might be the best thing you can do for your child’s health, not to mention their academic performance.