We already know that standing desks are transforming the workplace, but now they’re starting to grow in another sector: schools. As research continues to show the positive effects of standing, more educators are becoming aware of how this technology can benefit students of all ages. In fact, Vallecito Elementary in San Rafael, California is transitioning to all standing desk classrooms next year. It’s the first of its kind in the country, maybe even the world!
You can’t deny the science behind their reasoning. A recent study by Texas A&M University showed that children using standing desks (in the study, the desks were “standing-biased,” with a stool included but standing more encouraged) participated much more actively in lessons. The research team explains:
“Preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.”
This means that not only are standing desks beneficial for students, but they allow educators to get more out of their lesson plans. If you’ve ever been in a room full of energetic young children, you know that it’s difficult for them to stand still for any period of time. Allowing them to stand expends some of their energy and lessens those “antsy” feelings children can get when made to sit for 6 to 8 hours a day.
Another benefit of standing desks that is well reported is their positive impact on physical health. Kids spend a shocking amount of their waking life being sedentary – Fast Company’s Co.Exist estimates upwards of 80% of a modern child’s time is being spent in a prone position. Public health officials are citing standing desks as an excellent resource in preventing childhood obesity. In an era of being driven everywhere, an age where lazing inside and playing on a smartphone is more appealing to children than running free outside, standing while learning is a great way for students to get some vital activity they may not have the chance to otherwise.
Not to worry, though – the children at Vallecito won’t be forced to stand for 8 hours a day. They’ll always have the option of stools to sit down if they get tired, as well as a bar beneath the desk for them to put up a foot and lean. However, in classrooms at Vallecito Elementary that experimented with standing desks, they found that fourth graders were uninterested in the stools after 2 or 3 months and the first graders never used the stools and preferred to stand. This distinction is probably due to the fact that by the fourth grade, students have grown accustomed to sitting in school and need time to get used to the transition. However, as you can see, it didn’t take very long for them to get comfortable.
Vallecito is just one educational institution that’s embraced school-wide standing desks, but others aren’t far behind. More and more schools from the elementary level to universities are seeing the power of standing desks and how they can benefit both productivity and health, leading to a more fulfilling education.