Don’t Have Standing Desks Yet? 4 Strategies For Teachers To Get Your Classroom Active!

By Nick Green M.S., BCBA

Stand Up is fighting for our youth’s health one standing desk at a time. Our mission is clear:

The mission of StandUp Kids is to get every public school child at a standing desk in 10 years, to combat the epidemic of sedentary lifestyles and inactivity, and to better reflect 21st century education goals.”

However, swapping out your school’s sitting desks with standing desks will take some time. Standing more is the first step to creating a movement-friendly, and healthy environment. Yet, the standing desk is not the end all be all. Regular movement is just as important as sitting less.

Until your classroom receives its shipment of standing desks, programming movement into the school day will bring forth many health benefits. Below are four strategies that teachers, educators, and school administrators can begin implementing to improve our children’s health.

Strategy 1: Take Standing Breaks – The research is clear that breaking the sitting pattern has health benefits. Too often are students and teachers sitting in a desk for longer than an hour. Children sit in desks for the majority of their school day (4.5 hours). The responsibility falls on us to get them up and moving more. Have the classroom stand every 20-30 minutes These mini-breaks only need to last 1-2 minutes.

Strategy 2: Take Short Walks Throughout the Day – You can use longer class periods as opportunities to take a brief (5 minute) walk.  Combined with Strategy 1, every other standing break could be a quick trip in the hallway or outside around the parking lot. We know that sprinkling bursts of physical activity throughout the entire day is beneficial. Most importantly, teaching can still occur on the go. Are you a science teacher? Why not grab a close-up of leaves when teaching photosynthesis?

Strategy 3: Start Classroom Stretches and Movement Breaks – Sitting just wrecks the body, so loosening our muscles and “undoing” the harms of sitting is utterly important. Again, by combining this strategy with strategies 1 and 2, we can create more active breaks. These breaks can occur naturally (after a lesson) or can be specifically programmed (1/2 way through reading class). Check out the Movement Break Curriculum to get started.

Strategy 4: Give Students a Choice to Stand – Your order of standup desks has not arrived yet. But, you still want to get your students up and standing. What are you to do? Why not give students the freedom to learn and stand in the back (or side) of the room? Sure, you may have move a few desks and classroom furniture around, but the payoff is immense.

There may be certain tasks that require a stable surface (tracing, using a compass). However, when other classroom activities only require listening (a history lecture, educational movie), allow students to stand and learn instead.

The above strategies are just a sampling that teachers, educators, and school administrators can implement today. Some strategies may against convention (strategy 4) or may require us to cut through red tape (walking in the halls during class periods). Do let this discourage us from creating a healthier tomorrow!

At the very least, strategy 1 may be the most essential to transform a sedentary classroom into an active one. Classroom culture may take a long time to change, yet making a few, small changes today can point us in the right direction. By creating new classroom habits, not only will our students’ health improve, but our health will too!