PIQUA — The natural fidgetiness of youngsters often brings the admonishment to “sit still and behave,” but some new seating options — alternatives to the traditional hard-backed chairs most of us remember — are proving that many children learn better when allowed to move.
“When provided a traditional classroom chair, some students like to tip the chair or will frequently change positions. Others tend to put their heads on the desk and get sleepy,” said Shelley Kyle, physical therapist at Washington Primary School.
To address these problems, Kyle secured a grant for $4,625 from the Piqua Education Foundation to purchase Hokki stools and HowdaHug seats to give students “what their bodies need to help them learn,” she said.
The Hokki is an ergonomic stool with a convex base that permits rocking, twisting and turning, while the HowdaHug chair “cradles” and allows a rocking motion — perfect for allowing fidgety youngsters the freedom to move while still paying attention to their teachers.
“Teachers and researchers are finding that allowing students choice and movement in their seating can help improve attention, behavior and academic performance,” Kyle said. “From a PT perspective, it can support posture and aide gross motor development.”
When used appropriately, the Hokki stools allow students to safely rock and twist while staying at their desks, in addition to sitting upright, being more alert and less distracting in their movements,” Kyle explained.
“Other students tend to slouch or fall out of their chairs. The HowdaHug chairs help to provide these students with more postural support and deep sensory input and can be used on the floor or in their desk chairs,” she added.
Kyle recently surveyed all of the teachers at Washington regarding use of alternative seating options. Most of the respondents noted that students are expected to sit anywhere from 10 to 30 to thirty minutes while working in the classroom. During this time, those surveyed noticed approximately four to six students who have difficulty sitting still to focus. When asked if they would incorporate alternative seating into the classroom if provided with a greater variety of seating options, 78 percent responded they are very likely to do so.
Of those who have previously or are currently using either a Hokki stool or HowdaHug chair in the classrooms, 72 percent responded that a positive change in students’ ability to stay on task was noted, according to Kyle’s survey. Those who were not fond of the seating options primarily were concerned about storage issues within the classroom.
Overall, the Hokki and HowdaHug seats seem to be a hit at Washington. “The teachers have had overwhelmingly positive responses to the addition of the stools in their classrooms, and would love to have more,” Kyle said.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341