The natural order of the classroom has always been for pupils to sit. Whether this involves, talking, discussing, working in groups, or listening to the teacher, most of the time this is all done from the comfort of a chair.
Most primary school children spend on average, 70% of their classroom time sitting down. Outside the classroom, the number of children walking to school has decreased and, at the same time, many more children are spending longer staring at screens. Children aged five to 16 now spend an average of six and a half day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995.
In light of these changes to children’s habits outside school, how children spend their time in school is becoming increasingly more important. And the UK government’s recent childhood obesity strategy recommends “active lessons” as one way schools can work towards providing children with at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the school day.
It is becoming increasingly clear that in adults a lifetime of sitting can lead to a higher risk of early death, type two diabetes, and heart disease. And while the evidence is still limited when it comes to children’s health, there is certainly an argument that, as sedentary behaviour habits are formed early in life, targeting children is a logical step.
Perhaps more important for schools is the growing evidence that points to a link between increased physical activity in the classroom and educational benefits. This includes improved attention to tasks, as well an increase in pupil’s enjoyment of lessons and motivation to learn. And for some pupils in certain subjects academic achievement has also been shown to improve. Read more