It’s hard to focus on learning when you’re uncomfortable; it’s as simple as that. If your seat is cutting off blood flow to your legs, or the chair or table is too tall or too short for your stature, or if your back isn’t adequately supported, it’s going to affect your student’s learning as discomfort or pain can distract your students from focusing on the lesson. And if you have a long exam and your classroom seats aren’t uncomfortable, it might even affect the students’ test performance. With ergonomic chairs and tables, your students would have a conducive setting for learning and maximise their potential.
Have the School Invest in Ergonomics
So, now that we established the importance of ergonomics to your students’ health and learning let’s discuss how the school can ensure ergonomics in the classroom. Your students will be sitting for long periods, whether it’s in the classroom or cafeteria. As such, it’s necessary that the chairs in classrooms and computer labs are ergonomic.
If possible, invest in adjustable or different-sized seats and tables for students, as not all students have the same height and build. Some students may end up sitting down with their feet dangling off the floor, or are too tall that their chairs and tables force them into awkward and uncomfortable sitting positions. Granted, not all schools have the budget to invest in ergonomics, but it’s essential to know that the options are there if ever the school can gather enough funds. As a parent of a student, a teacher, or part of the school board, this is something that you can lobby for.
Teach and Encourage Proper Posture
Students spend almost 80% of their time at school sitting, and even with the best ergonomic educational furniture, it’s important for them to watch their posture to prevent back and neck issues. Posture is the key in ergonomics, and ergonomic furniture and equipment are there to help you maintain the right posture comfortably and prevent any muscle pains and discomfort from sitting for a long time.
But, if your students keep slouching or have their legs and elbows in the wrong position, or have their feet poorly placed (or hanging), it would defeat the purpose of ergonomic chairs. And if purchasing educational furniture such as ergonomically-engineered adjustable chairs and desks for students isn’t possible due to budgetary constraints, all the more reason for the school to teach and encourage proper posture.
When in class, always remind students on how to properly sit down, or the correct posture when using computers. It wouldn’t hurt to take an hour to teach proper posture and teach students the immediate effects and long-term repercussions of bad posture.
Allow Short Breaks for Stretching
In a 60 to 90 minute class, having your students stay seated for the entire time, even with the proper posture and ergonomic equipment, can be tiring and straining to the muscles. It’s recommended for everyone to take even just a minute of standing up and stretching every 45 minutes to help relieve any tension and tiredness and help with blood circulation. So allow your students to stretch in class, as long as they don’t disrupt others, or perhaps even schedule for the entire class to take a stretch halfway during the class (you can also do a stretching break thing when you feel like the class is getting bored or is starting to get information overload).
Ergonomics is roughly defined as the study of efficiency, and ergonomic is the term to describe something comfortable and promotes efficiency. More companies are investing in ergonomic office equipment to maximise the productivity of their workforce and keep them safe from strain and discomfort. It’s only logical for schools to do the same to maximise the full learning potential of its students in a conducive and comfortable classroom.