Does physical freedom and movement in the classroom improve student focus?
By Monica Van Aken, Ed. D, Head of School
In the Spring of 2006, obesity researchers at the Mayo Clinic produced an innovative design for the classroom of the future. instead of chairs, students would use "standing desks" to incorporate movement into every classroom activity. With ever-rising obesity and ever-shrinking time for physical education, researchers proved that kids need and want to move, can learn while doing so, and some even learn better in an active environment.
Consider our classrooms. Students are always free to sit where they wish with others at tables, or alone on mats on the floor. They move about the classroom all day, rarely receiving lessons in the same seat. They use hands-on materials to solve math problems, learn the parts of speech, unroll timelines in the hallway and use the information to write reports on beasts of the Cambrian period. They work on table-sized and wall-sized maps. They read aloud, practice Spanish conversation, recite grammar rules, receive botany lessons in the greenhouse in the early Spring, and use steam tables and microscopes.
It seems that Maria Montessori knew 100 years ago what the scientists are just now proving: Children who have the freedom to move and explore are engaged and focused throughout the day. Glad we are ahead of the curve!