Fourth-grade teacher Amanda Grey used to have the hardest period get her 27 students to focus in class.
They’d slump down in their chairs, tilt backward, and get distracted by any number of things.
While you might be thinking this sounds like your median fourth-grader, there was one common thread in their behaviour that might’ve been the catalyst: sitting .
A student in the United States sits an average of 4. 5 hours a day while in school. Add that to all the sitting they do at home, and they’re spending approximately 85% of their day being sedentary .
Several analyses have noted that prolonged sitting can be bad for your long-term health, even with regular exercise. But perhaps the most immediately harmful facet of sitting for kids is how it can negatively affect attention spans.
Thankfully, about 3 years ago, Crossfit studio owneds Juliet and Kelly Starrett brought standing desks to Grey’s school.
Vallecito Elementary was also where the Starretts’ daughter Georgia went to school, and the couple would often volunteer to run sack races during school field days. They noticed that while the students appeared healthy, they lacked range of motion in their hip extension when they jumped.
Thinking this was likely due to too much sitting, they approached the school about trying standing desks in a classroom. The school administration was receptive and agreed to replace their traditional desks with standing desks in one fourth-grade classroom in August 2014.
After a brief period of adjustment, the students were on board with the change to standing in class.
Teachers and mothers alike were noticing the government had more focused energy, which helped them perform better in school.
“I have found that my students’ overall academic performance has improved simply because they are more attentive during lessons when they’re standing, ” explains Grey. “I deal with far fewer behavior issues while I teach, less student distraction and overall more focus.”
The rest of the educators at Vallecito saw similar results and were thrilled when the Starretts decided to find a way to fund stand desks for the entire school. By that point, they had founded their nonprofit, Stand Up Kids, which is all about training schools on the importance of fitness and mobility.
Thanks to a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, the Starretts created $110,000 — enough to buy standing desks for all 450 Vallecito students .
The best part for Grey is find how standing desks have constructed school life so much better for her students, especially those with attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, ADHD.
During Grey’s second year with standing desks, she had a new student who had a history of “overactive behavior” that stimulated it difficult for her to get her run done. At the end of the student’s first day, Grey asked her what the best part of her day was.
“She told me that she loved not getting in trouble for needing to stand up throughout the day and being told to stay in her seat, ” recollects Grey. “It was so clear to me that this student needed to be active and have a variety of seat alternatives during her school day to be successful. I was very glad to welcome her into a school community that offers these sorts of learning environment.”
Since the Starretts started their initiative, over 27,000 children nationwide have access to a stand desk. Grey hopes that’s just the beginning.
While inhabiting an entire classroom with standing desks is expensive, Grey encourages educators to be creative in getting kids on their feet.
“Even if you’re not able to get one desk per student, having five will make a difference, ” says Grey. “I would also explore ways to build sitting desks into standing desks as a route to experiment with the positive impact on students.”
Schools and educators can get a leg up on fundraising for standing desks or other active lifestyle plans for students, by visiting Stand Up Kids’ fundraising page .
Remember, it’s not just about standing — it’s about encouraging a more active lifestyle in children so it becomes an inherent part of their adult lives. Any style teachers can promote are moving forward the classroom is a step in the right direction .
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