Healthy Movement in the Classroom
August 10, 2022
If you’re of a certain age, chances are that you have a memory of a teacher telling you to sit still, stop fidgeting or something similar. After all, if you were moving around in your chair you must not have been paying attention, right? Wrong. Healthy movement in the classroom can be a good thing.
Research has confirmed that a moderate amount of movement actually helps to improve concentration and focus in the classroom. Looking at it from the other direction, sitting still does not mean paying attention … when we’re forced to be still we tend to wander mentally, become drowsy or both. This is true both in school and in professional settings, but it’s especially challenging for young people to keep still.
Children’s brains are still developing, and movement helps to refine the motor skills that lead to better coordination, which is directly linked to learning ability. Healthy movement encourages that development and helps keep kids more active and more alert, even if that movement happens while they’re seated.
So while part of the solution is to design a curriculum that allows for movement while out of their chairs, like getting out for walks or taking other breaks for physical activity, classroom design is increasingly allowing for movement while learning is happening, not as a separate activity.
This doesn’t necessarily mean having everyone rolling around on wheeled chairs (although rolling chairs are a great addition to a flexible classroom environment). Solutions can be as simple as providing seating with a footrest so kids can adjust their leg position. Chairs with adjustable height allow for changes in posture (and again are conducive to flexible classrooms). Other offerings include chairs that rock or bounce, or both, allowing a limited amount of movement but not enough to create a distraction from learning. Standing desks are another great option for healthy movement.
There’s no longer any doubt that movement helps learning rather than hindering it, so with any luck the days of those uncomfortable desk-bolted-to-the-chair classrooms are behind us.
Questions about classroom design for better learning? Contact Douron.