Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Active Seating Boosts Student Focus

Flavors Noodle chair

Smith System’s Flavors Noodle chair helped to reduce fidgeting and enhance student focus at Central Avenue School.

A sharp rise in the global rate of pediatric ADHD cases has motivated schools to find better solutions for student seating. That includes Central Avenue School (CAS), a pre-K through fifth-grade school of 500 students within New Jersey’s Madison Public School District.

Megan Kelly Petersen, a CAS occupational therapist, had observed a common denominator at the school: students who struggled to sit still, stay focused and hone their fine motor skills, like writing. Often, students were sitting with poor posture and continually fidgeting. She could see how the school’s predominant one-size-fits-all seating — a hard, traditional shell on four legs — wasn’t working for many students.

“Traditional chairs tend to facilitate a posterior pelvic tilt and, therefore, a slouched posture. This impacts students’ breathing, vision and fine motor skills.”

Peterson found a better option with Smith System’s Flavors Noodle chair. The “active seating” chair features a patented suspension below the seat pan that allows it to tilt slightly in all directions, moving with the student. It provides comfort, back support and promotes core muscles use. In fact, studies show that academic performance improves when students can move naturally (i.e., fidgeting and shifting) while learning.

CAS added 30 Noodle chairs last year. Though the sample was small, nearly 90 percent of the teachers agreed the chairs increased attention span. Among students, 100 percent said the chairs helped them focus. The chair’s success will likely lead to a larger purchase this year.

Many students need modifications to fully access their education, says Petersen. “When purchasing furniture, schools must consider attention level, movement seeking amount, muscle tone/muscle strength, posture, fine motor skills, length of sitting time and work expectations.”

www.SmithSystem.com

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

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