How exercise balls and bean bag chairs keep NJ kids focused in schools
The typical chair-and-desk model is going out the window in more New Jersey classrooms.
To keep kids focused and more inclined to work together, teachers are introducing unique ways for their students to sit and learn ... or stand and learn. Or even bounce and learn.
Just a little movement can help certain children concentrate and handle complex tasks, research has shown.
Second-grade teacher Jennifer DeWeese at Glenwood Avenue Elementary School in Wildwood is in the first year of introducing the concept of "flexible seating."
Ahead of each subject area or activity, her students have their pick of a variety of learning positions. With the support of Principal Christel Pond, DeWeese's classroom is equipped with bean bag chairs, floor cushions, standing desks, wobble stools, bouncy chairs (featuring an exercise ball) and more. DeWeese also has three traditional desks on hand.
"When students are in traditional rows or individual desks, there's no collaboration between the students," DeWeese said. "Now the trends in education are to be having kids collaborate and work together more, and I think this promotes that."
The idea and research started last year when one of DeWeese's students was struggling to sit still. A new cushion on the student's chair allowed the student to move but also complete his work.
Principal Pond said she's encouraged all staff members to observe the model being used in DeWeese's classroom.
"From what I've seen and from what she's expressed to me, it's been a huge success," Pond said.
Standing desks are an option in select classrooms at Wilson Elementary School in West Caldwell. Students rotate every two weeks since there aren't enough desks for everyone.
The staffers who pushed for the desks said they noticed a marked improvement in students' time on task and focus.
In just the past 12 months, more than 2,000 Bouncy Bands have been sold to customers in New Jersey. Most of the orders were from schools. The heavy-duty rubber bands attach to the legs of a desk and allow children to "wiggle while they work."
"New Jersey has been booming with Bouncy Band customers," said CEO Scott Ertl.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.