The ergonomic benefits of a standing desk in the workplace have become well understood in recent years. Now those in K-12 education have taken notice about the performance gains an adjustable height desk can offer students.
The trend emerged last fall as a select number of schools across the country began experimenting with standing desks. This year, at least one school in California’s Bay Area converted almost all of its classroom workstations to accommodate a standing position. This spring, a number of schools across Canada rolled out adjustable height workstations.
Standing desks are the hot item in forward-thinking school districts. So what advantages do standing desks offer students?
- Increased energy burn. Studies show that standing desks help kids at a healthy weight burn 15-25 percent more calories—and up to 35 percent more for obese children.
- Better focus. This especially holds true for students with ADHD, who according to the National Education Association, need to be in motion to learn.
These claims are backed lots of anecdotal evidence by educators, and by a good deal of research as well.
- One study published in September 2014 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looked at 480 students in Texas schools. A set of children were assigned standing desks at random. Researchers found those students expended more energy and had higher step counts compared to their seated counterparts.
- Standing up in a collaborative setting is found to improve group productivity, according to a 2014 Washington University study. Researchers found that standing increases group arousal while lessening group idea territoriality, both of which result in more information elaboration and enhanced group performance.
How are schools using standing desks?
- As a secondary workstation. For standing group work, an adjustable height flipper table suits the task. Flipper tables are typically adjustable between 26 and 34 inches high, with enough room for six to eight students to stand around. Tops flip back to allow for easy storage. Some flipper tables have electronics that raise and lower the table top. Others are operated mechanically.
- As a primary all–day desk. Schools that implement individual standing desks use them as the primary seat in a classroom. Some schools, like the San Rafael, Calif., school mentioned above, offer kids stools in case they get tired. A standing desk accommodates the wiggles—some models like the Safco AlphaBetter have built-in “fidget bars” that engage students’ legs in a standing position.
Childhood obesity and attention-related issues are two of the most common challenges facing educators in the modern classroom. As schools and administrators look for ways to address these issues, a standing desk provides a simple, fixed-cost solution. Expect to see adjustable height desks for schools become more commonplace in the years ahead.