Kinesthetic desks are a helping educators across America promote health in the classroom.
Some schools across the U.S. are ditching traditional classrooms in an effort to promote student health. Photo via
Several schools across the country have begun implementing kinetic desks in classrooms. These desks have pedals attached to the bottom so children can move around and let out energy without distracting others.
Edmond’s own Cross Timbers Elementary School has even started adding these desks and other active solutions to the learning experience. The health room at Cross Timbers features several different types of equipment that allow the students to learn and move around at the same time.
The school’s health teacher, Keri Orsack-Byrd, named some of the equipment available in the health room. “We have standing desks, pedal stools, seated motion desks, Rockin’ Turtle Shells and strider desks.”
Each piece of equipment has a different function and the children can move from station to station.
“Variety is key to making this classroom run effectively. Each child learns differently, so I noticed certain students gravitate towards certain pieces of equipment,” Orsack-Byrd said. “Turtle shells involve more of a quiet space; students curl up inside a read. Strider desk students are working in pairs to complete a project – word finds, questions about units of study. The standing desk is simply made for students who don’t like to sit.”
Recent studies show that children actually learn better when they can move around. These types of desks have also been extremely beneficial for children with ADHD, allowing them to focus their brains and move their bodies as they please.
Research shows that in adulthood, sitting all day, every day, can lead to heart disease, diabetes and muscle strain. Even children who sit for hours uninterrupted will show a reduction in vascular function.
While these side effects do disappear after the children begin moving again, it can still be dangerous to promote a lifestyle that leads to more serious health problems in the future.
Kinetic desks and other active learning equipment give kids the opportunity to learn healthy exercise habits from a young age. When kids can break up their sitting time with a little activity, these negative side effects are non-existent.
Cynthia Wilson, an occupational therapist, echoed the health benefits from this type of equipment and added that children are actually more engaged when they have the opportunity to move around. “I can tell you that sitting on [exercise] balls keeps kids alert and it strengthens their core. One of my teachers has nothing but balls in her class, no chairs, and the kids are appropriate with them.”
— ActionBased Learning (@kidsfit_sc) December 27, 2016
Research on the effectiveness of these kinesthetic classrooms is in the early stages, but so far it has been a hit with children across the country.
When asked how the students at her school have reacted to the new learning techniques, Keri Orsack-Byrd said, “A classroom teacher told me, after leaving health, [my] students are A: always hungry, B: always excited and can’t wait to tell her what they learned, C: always quiet and focused. She asked if she could have health twice a day!”
Critiques of the traditional classroom setting are not new. From an early age, energetic kids are taught to sit up straight and stay still for hours a day.
This may work for some kids, but for others being able move around is integral to the learning experience.
School psychologist, Amy Pemberton explained, “Every child has their own learning style and if we can tap into that modality, that’s the best way to help a child. If you have a kinesthetic learner who has the opportunity to be in a kinesthetic classroom, that just opens up a whole new world for them.”
These new kinesthetic classroom options are becoming more popular every day. As a healthy and unique alternative to the traditional classroom, it is no surprise why so many schools are working towards providing these options to all students.