Children and Motion
According to Dr. Dieter Breithecker, MA ( Head of the Federal Institute on the Development of Posture & Exercise in Germany and a member of ”Ergonomics for Children & Educational Environment”), through his talk “Bodies in Motion: Designing Healthy School Environments as the Third Teacher” – or “Bodies in (e-) Motion”, spaces should inspire the body, mind and soul of the child. There is a high inter-dependency between mental movement and emotions and this can be reflected in our educational spaces and the types of furniture we provide in all spaces. When studying children and how much they move within a certain amount of time, one child was observed changing positions 17 times in 15 minutes.
Think about that….our need to move goes back to evolution and prehistoric times when cave men walked the earth. “It is part of our memory on our genetic heart disc”, as Dr. Breithecker would say. We can’t escape this long past yet we try to make kids sit still for extended periods of time.
Maria Montessori knew: “Watching a child makes it obvious that development of body and mind comes through movement”.
When a student is fidgeting or moving around a lot while seated, this is not an indicator that they are hyperactive, but an indication that they are exhibiting healthy active behavior.
We are experiencing too much sitting as the possible next thing compared to smoking. We need to move and by not moving about throughout the day, one cannot compensate by directed physical activity in the evening.
Our furniture choices in educational environments can help with this. There is a basic 20% rule in that the seating options should be diverse in height, width and depth. The 20% is weighted in each category of type of chair. There should be opportunities for standing up at a desk but definitely not all of the classroom furniture. Not everyone is a standup learner. There should be four different types of seating with the floor being the fifth.
Furniture for a learning commons can be used and moved as well throughout the day. Checkout the website: www.expectmiraculous.com and how the Barrow Media Center is transformed again and again using diverse furniture and how the media specialist interacts in the day to day lives of the students as a resource. In the August 2013 archive post, “And we’re off…” the furniture is highlighted as to its possible layouts and iterations.