By Jane Luscombe
New research has come up with a novel way of making children more active in the classroom – you throw out the chairs.
Auckland University of Technology has run a trial of standing workstations at Onepoto School in Auckland.
At first glance, the classroom seems like any other, until you take a closer look and realise no one is sitting down. The children are provided with standing workstations in the hope of making them more active.
“As we all know, children are naturally active,” says associate professor Erica Hinckson. “They love to move and we just need to reduce those opportunities for children to be sedentary.”
The trial at Onepoto School found children who used the workstations stood for an extra hour each day.
The height of the workstations can be adjusted, though they're not perfect for everyone.
“I wouldn't mind a mixture,” says teacher Ann Pethybridge. “There's definitely a place for them in the class, but I think also there's a need for desks at times as well.”
Principal Marc Dombrosky liked the choice they gave children, as well as the room to move around. But said the novelty wore off for some.
“Some people started to get a little bit lazier and were looking for opportunities to either lean on the furniture more or actually some were even under the desk,” he says.
For those moments, beanbags and mats were also provided.
Children spend 60 percent of their time at school sitting down and it gets worse when they go to intermediate, so the researchers would like to extend the trial to older children.