How an active classroom can help combat childhood obesity
With social distancing the priority for the new school year, other initiatives have taken a back seat, but fitness must also be at the forefront. In July, the UK government launched a new plan to tackle obesity among both adults and children. According to the government report, around one third of children of primary school leaving age are over a healthy weight. Few public spaces are as important in shaping children’s future as school classrooms. Given that adults are advised to reduce sedentary behaviour at work to prevent negative health outcomes, it is important that the same principle be applied in schools.
The active learning classroom is based on the premise that physical activity affects brain activity, that movement and learning are closely linked, and that changing your working position regularly improves concentration. Moreover, alternating between sitting and standing improves muscle strength, balance and blood circulation. This means that an active classroom has both mental and physical benefits. Social distancing doesn’t have to limit activity levels: sit-stand desks, balance stools and pedal exercisers can all be used safely without the need for close interaction. In fact, one of the key attributes of active learning furniture is how well it lends itself to rearranging the classroom regularly for a more flexible set up.
Here are our tips on how to furnish your classroom to provide optimal working conditions for your students – both in the short and long term.
Standing desks to support wider movement
Sit-stand desks offer students the possibility to decide for themselves if and when to switch between sitting and standing. The variety this provides prevents repetitive strain and helps them maintain focus on their work rather than fidgeting. An alternative is to combine standard desks with high tables for use when working on group projects. The students can then choose a different setup depending on the lesson or task. This teaches kids that movement can be a normal part of the working day, a lesson they can take with them as they grow up and move into the world of work.
Active sitting chairs to encourage productive fidgeting
There's nothing wrong with sitting down per se, but it's important not to sit all the time. Because everyone has their own unique sitting style, choosing school chairs that allow students to sit facing forward or backwards on the seat and rock slightly as they sit is an effective way to ensure they are sitting comfortably. Balance stools are another way to keep kids moving while seated at their desks. This type of seat works the core muscles to improve posture and forces students to use their legs to stay steady. The body undertakes this small amount of movement subconsciously and the fidgeting effect suits many children who struggle to sit completely still during lessons.
Simple exercise equipment to provide an outlet for high energy levels
Many students find it hard to sit still in the classroom and burning off excess energy through increased physical activity can improve their learning ability. Giving students the opportunity to use a desk bike or pedal exerciser is a simple way to boost activities levels while contributing to a calmer classroom atmosphere. It means restless pupils have a proper outlet for energy that would otherwise get them into trouble or distract the rest of the class. Moreover, it allows them to focus better on the lesson. Such products are easy to wipe down and share between students.
Whiteboards for group work
Standing up boosts cooperation, so is great for group projects. The results of the group work can be compiled on a whiteboard. In addition to reporting their ideas, this also allows the different groups to draw inspiration and learn from each other. When students use writing boards, it is also easier for the teacher to monitor their progress and check which students need help.
Don't forget acoustics
When classroom activity intensifies, noise levels tend to do the same, so ceiling- and wall-mounted acoustic panels are a smart investment.
AJ Products is passionate about active working as a way to get kids moving and has teamed up with ukactive to find ways to improve health in schools and workplaces. Don't hesitate to contact us for advice and assistance.