Standing Desks – Not Just for Grown-Ups!

Just like you dread having to spend 8+ hours sitting in an uncomfortable chair, so too do students who have to sit at school. Students end up sitting in small, uncomfortable plastic chairs with a desk attached to them. Forgot what those chairs look like? Here’s a picture!

As extracurricular activities take the back burner due to decreased funding, children are increasingly finding it harder to sit still and focus when they have energy waiting to be released. A high school principal who spent two days shadowing student life reported that the surprising part was how hard it was to sit all day.

I could not believe how tired I was after the first day. I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot …we move a lot … But students move almost never. And never is exhausting.

This principal reflected on what she would change in her own classroom if she could go back in time, including “mandatory stretch[ing],” a basketball hoop on the back door for a few minutes of activity, and “hands-on, move-around activity.”

Schools are recognizing the need for students to sit less and move more and trying to come up with new solutions. One solution that is gaining favor is adding standing desks or adjustable desks into classrooms. Standing desks are being incorporated into schools across the nation, from elementary schools to the university level – and we’re excited for the change.

The National Education Association has spent some time looking at schools that have incorporated standing desk options into their classrooms, and the findings have been positive. Abby Brown, a teacher with standing desks in her 6th grade classroom said “The students can’t stand all day, but they can lean against the stool, and the footrest allows for natural movement. It’s a comforting kind of fidget that helps them stay focused.” Students feel in control, like they’re given an option rather than being confined to a chair.

Not to mention the health benefits of standing for these kids. Dr. Donald Dengel, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology and an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, co-authored a 2011 study that examined changes in caloric expenditure due to standing desks. He found that those using a standing desk burn 114 kilocalories a day- or half of a candy bar. Over the course of the school year, that adds up to almost 6 pounds. 

Standing desks are also being incorporated into libraries and common areas at universities around the U.S. Students spend a most of their day sitting in front of computers to study, work, or surf the Web. Standing desks and treadmill desks in the library give those students an option for how they want to study and they’re being well- received. Professors at universities have also been replacing their office desk with a standing desk option. When not teaching classes, professors spend countless hours at their desks engaging in office hours, grading, and research. Both teachers and students have benefited from standing desks at schools.

If you’re looking for a great organization to support, check out Standup Kids, which helps bring standing height desks to classrooms across America. They’re looking to have every public school child have a standing desk option within the next 10 years.

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