For many families, getting a child to do their homework can be a daily battle and for the parents of children with additional needs, such as ADHD and autism, the challenge can sometimes be even greater.
Because neurodivergence is typically associated with hyperactivity and repetitive physical behaviours, sitting and concentrating for any length of time can prove difficult and take a significant amount of energy. After navigating the school day, it’s no surprise that many children are therefore reluctant to do more learning at home.
But the results of a new study have shown there could be a simple solution to improving comfort and making the whole experience more enjoyable – ditching the chair and standing up!
Parents of neurodivergent children were asked to share what their typical experiences at homework time were. More than half (51%) of the 200 parents surveyed said that their child found it very difficult to focus and challenging to sit still for extended periods of time, especially when completing schoolwork. Two-thirds (64%) adding that their child was very unlikely to stay seated for the duration of a task.
To see what difference standing up might have for homework time, 10* volunteer families were subsequently given a standing desk to trial for a period of four weeks.
The families were asked to share any differences they saw in their child’s ability to focus, their comfort, accuracy in mark-making and willingness to do their homework. Plus, to consider whether the young person’s needs and challenges manifested differently when standing to work, versus them being seated.
After using the EIGER student standing desks, parents said they saw increased engagement and focus on the task at hand, along with improvements in restlessness and hyperactivity. All the families also reported an improvement in their child’s handwriting.
The study was conducted by Lancashire learning innovator, I Want A Standing Desk (IWASD), in collaboration with Dr Helen Ross, a government advisor and British Dyslexia Association trustee, driving for positive change for children with special educational needs.
Nick White, founder of IWASD, commented: “No child was born to sit still. So, it’s no surprise that for many, sitting still to learn – whether in the classroom or at home – can be a challenge. We know from the 600+ schools we work with that this is especially true in the case of children with additional needs.
“Homework time can prove to be a battle that families come to dread and so the purpose of this study was to see whether standing up could positively impact on the experience for all involved. It’s been fascinating to speak to parents, many of whom have seen significant improvements over the four-week period. While we can’t change the homework that has been set, we can help make its completion a more comfortable experience. Just like we see in the classroom environment, having the opportunity to stand up to learn has proven an instant hit with the children too!”
Dr Helen Ross said: “What this report really highlighted to me – and something I personally see with many of the young people I work with – is just how much children can benefit from having an opportunity to move. It can be such a simple solution for boosting their ability to focus but also their wellbeing, in what might otherwise be a stressful situation.”
One of the children taking part in the trial was eight-year-old Natalie from Southend, who is autistic. Her mother Sarah commented: “One difference we noticed straightaway is that using the standing desk means Natalie can move when she needs to and then carry on with what she’s doing. Because she’s not tied to a chair, it’s no longer about sitting and trying to supress herself. If she feels a bit fidgety, she has options.
“This has helped her feel more comfortable while she’s working and also improved her focus. But I think the best thing about using the standing desk for us has been that it allows Natalie to get things done in her own way.”
Another child taking part in the homework trial was Oliver Webb, aged 10, who lives with his mum, dad and younger sister in Cambridge. Oliver has been diagnosed as having ADHD.
His mum Anna commented: “Oliver is always busy and on the move. He gets bored very easily and we always faced a lot of resistance at homework time. Using the standing desk and being able to move around while doing his work, has really helped his concentration. The desk has given him different options and he really likes that.”
More than 600 UK primary schools currently use EIGER Student Standing Desks, which allow pupils to stand and move whilst they learn. As well as benefiting health and wellbeing, schools using them report seeing improvements in behaviour and concentration, especially among those pupils with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions.
To read Dr. Helen Ross’ full report click this link.
*One family was unable to finish the trial, so percentages in the report are calculated based on the feedback of the 9 families who completed it.
For more information, please contact Nick White email@example.com / 01200 420877