With this blog, I am constantly thinking about educational and parenting issues for columns. With summertime, more time has been spent thinking about children, behavior, and summer slide, than actual time spent in the classroom. As a parent, I guess my head is literally more in the sand, the water, the soccer field, or at the fun summer event than the classroom, until now. I have just become acquainted with the standing desk.
A few weeks ago, “The Washington Post” ran an article “Standing Desks At Schools: The Solution to the Childhood Obesity Epidemic.” Perhaps you think of such desks as simply a feature in swank modern offices. In fact, more and more schools are using them as a way to fight childhood obesity and attention problems. They give student, what researchers’ term, “active-permissive environments,” to best learn in and succeed.
Standing desks have been found to be a powerful tool to help children expend energy and calories, a boon to this country’s obesity epidemic and its poor cousins of heart diseases, Type 2 Diabetes, and host of other maladies that are affecting young people today at epidemic rates. A study reported in the “American Journal of Public Health,” titled “The Impact Of Stand-Biased Desks In Classrooms On Calorie Expenditure In Children” found in its sample of 80 first grade students that students with standing desks burned 17% more calories than those in traditional desks. Students who were obese in the study burned 32% more. Multiply the use of standing desks, by five days of school per week, and we have a pretty powerful obesity fighter.
This also turns the old belief of sitting still and learning on its head. Researchers found that being able to move around is essential to processing new information and learning. Think of the learners that get lost, while seemingly feeling tortured by the demands of sitting still to learn. Studies have found the use of standing desks is very effective in helping children who would otherwise become distracted and perhaps behavioral issues in the classroom, more able to stay focused and learn. Being able to move around while listening to the teacher, allows students a different way to complete course work. It breaks up monotony for the students. It clears the way for certain learners who tune out and perhaps act up. Movement promotes learning.
So while I personally prefer thinking about sitting in the sand this time of the year, before we know it-school will be here. With such promising studies about the standing desk’s efficacy, perhaps more schools and homes will start using them.