Taking a Stand

Standing desks allow kids to think on their feet.

January 29, 2016

A student at Vallecito Elementary works at his desk.

The new year brought new desks for students at Vallecito Elementary School, in San Rafael, California. The last three of the school’s 22 classrooms switched from seated desks to standing desks. “It’s now the first all-standing school,” Juliet Starrett told TFK. She started the group StandUp Kids. Her goal is to have every U.S. public school kid using a standing desk within the next 10 years.

Starrett’s daughters—Georgia, 10, and Caroline, 7—attend Vallecito. They are thrilled with their desks. “You feel happier, you’re less tired, and you’re more active,” Georgia says.

Some of the desks have wheels and fidget bars. The bars let kids move in a way that doesn’t disturb the class. Wheels allow the desks to be moved easily. The desks also adjust to ­different heights. Kids take breaks by sitting on the floor or on stools.


Ergonomics is the study of designing things to make them easy and safe to use. According to Mark Benden, the director of the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center, standing workers are more focused and healthier. He says his research shows that kids using standing desks are more engaged and burn more calories. In December, researchers in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom released similar findings. But not everyone is convinced standing is better than sitting. Some parents and teachers worry that kids will get tired and that standing for long periods of time may be harmful. And standing desks are more expensive.

Benden says both sitting and standing desks can cause problems if they are not the proper height. “Our message should not be ‘Sit less, stand more,’” he says, “but ‘Sit less, move more.’”

Some teachers are for keeping sitting desks while allowing kids to read on a treadmill or an exercise bike. Others encourage daily dance and yoga breaks. Where do you stand on the ­issue? Vote in the poll below!

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