The Gill St. Bernard’s Lower School in Gladstone, New Jersey has jumped on the health bandwagon and replaced straight-backed chairs and traditional desks with stability balls and standing desks.
The teacher’s wanted to allow students greater flexibility and mobility in the classroom. The small private school is comparative to an elementary school and strongly promotes the health and well-being of students.
The school director has a stability ball and a standing desk in her own office, and decided to promote this idea in the classroom. She firmly believes that using nontraditional classroom equipment can increase a student’s overall focus for a better learning experience.
“It’s more natural for students to move,” she said. “Having them stay still has a negative impact on learning.”
Nontraditional classroom equipment, like an adjustable height desk and a stability ball, results in new rules and regulations. The students were taught how to use the equipment safely, and had to sign a contract that promised to follow safety guidelines. Their parents were also included in the transition, and offered information on the health benefits of using a standing desk and nontraditional chair.
On parent was so pleased with the results that he bought two stability balls for him and his son to use at home. The teachers also reported fewer disciplinary issues in class. “The stability balls have made such a positive difference in class,” said a fourth grade teacher. “I’ve never had such a quiet, hardworking math class.”
The stability ball didn’t get all the credit, an adjustable height desk showed to have positive benefits on students’ concentration. One teacher was skeptical about incorporating a standing desk in her classroom, but she quickly converted once one student, who usually had trouble concentrating and remaining on task, was able to work through an entire class period behind the desk.
The student, who didn’t disrupt the classroom once, also turned in quality work when the class period was finished. The teacher was so impressed that she decided to order more standing desks for her students to use.
This isn’t the first school to use a standing desk or nontraditional desk chair in the classroom. Last February we touched on a study of a first-grade classroom in Texas that was equipped with adjustable height desks. The students used a stool instead of a stability ball, so they could sit and stand as needed.
After six weeks into the study, 70 percent of the students never used the stool during the day, with 30 percent standing the majority of the time behind the standing desk. The study went on to reveal that overweight students who stood the majority of the day increased calorie burn by 32 percent!
With childhood obesity and ADHD diagnosis on the rise, it’s no wonder schools are searching for new and improved ways to promote a child’s well-being and increase focus at the same time. Whether it’s a standing desk or a desk used with a stability ball, it’s becoming more and more apparent that children need the flexibility to move throughout the day for a better learning environment.