Designing Elementary Learning Spaces to Encourage Movement in the Classroom
- June 30, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
Incorporating movement into elementary learning spaces offers benefits to students’ physical health, social and emotional wellbeing, and academic success. Physical activity is a powerful tool for improving learning and focus, increasing engagement, and reducing classroom management challenges.
Research suggests that increased physical activity in schools can improve academic achievement. Studies have shown that brain plasticity and cognitive function are significantly improved by physical activity, which supports critical developmental and learning processes in children. Plus, increased physical activity is associated with improved mood, fewer behavioral issues, and lower stress levels.
There are many ways to encourage movement in the classroom, but at the foundation is creating learning spaces that are conducive to movement and physical activity.
Prolonged sitting is connected to negative health effects for children, including decreased circulation and restricted mobility and physical development. Offering standing desks and floor seating options allows students to work in a variety of positions throughout the day. This improves blood flow and helps students maintain a healthy posture.
Creating differentiated classroom learning zones is a functional way to personalize the learning environment to meet the diverse needs of students. With specific learning zones established throughout the classroom, students can engage with different learning environments and types of learning content. This keeps students moving around the classroom throughout the day as their learning needs change.
Active learning spaces and movement go hand-in-hand, with both having tremendous effects on students’ engagement and focus. Active learning is less about physical activity, and more about students listening to their minds and bodies and making active decisions to change their learning environment to fit their needs throughout the day. Active learning spaces often offer a multitude of different seating options, collaborative and solo working areas, and mobile furniture pieces that enable a flexible learning space. All these features support and encourage movement in the classroom.
No matter how great your classroom’s learning space variety is, keeping students contained in the classroom all day greatly decreases their opportunities to move around while they learn. Taking learning outside––whether for a nature walk or to sit in your school’s outdoor learning area––helps get kids moving, plus, being outdoors stimulates children’s senses and helps them engage with their learning in different ways.
Designing the elementary classroom with movement in mind can greatly improve students’ learning experience and achievement, promoting physical health, emotional wellbeing, focus, engagement, and increased cognitive function. Selecting the right furniture pieces to support movement in the classroom is a critical part of building spaces that encourage movement. Contact MiEN for a wide range of floor seating, standing desks, flexible and mobile furniture, and other furnishings that can help encourage movement in your classroom.