Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Just Standing Around- RES

Sometimes when I walk around in the art room, I find myself constantly bumping into chairs.  Today was one of those days.  Little bumps and bruises all over. Are my tables too close together? Upon further inspection, these chairs are pulled out, away from the tables, and are not in use by the students.  Why?
Because the children are standing.  

Not for a minute or two, but for the whole work time in class. 
This is not one or two children, but many.  

I snapped this photo this morning.

Four out of eight artists in this photo are standing. 

Half choose not to sit. This is not a random snapshot on a day with high numbers of standers, this is a constant in the art room, only I have never actually counted before today, when it really struck me. Here are the other students from that same class who were present today.

In this second photo, five out seven painters are standing.  One is sitting.  And that fellow closest to us is sort of using his chair to help him reach, but never actually sat down the whole time he painted, alternating between standing and that knee support thing.  So, in this class of fifteen, ten were standing to paint.

 Why?  In a free play situation where children are allowed to self-regulate, it would be the rare young child indeed who sat for forty minutes.  Fidgeting, standing, and moving are natural and constant, and I would argue that those actions actually seem to help my students focus.

Each and every art class involves traveling at least twice. Students begin at my carpet, travel across the room to see any technique demos that need to happen, and disperse across the room again to their seats. Additionally, I play music during work times and encourage respectful indoor-voice chatter. Some sing or hum. Many like to stand at their seats, because to be "in your seat" is not required. The difference is that I ask them respect their own progress as an artist and focus on their work, regardless of how "quiet" their body is to do so.

There are, of course, all sorts of studies on how movement and exercise improve attention and concentration in children. And if my little bit of anecdote in my tiny art room universe holds any water, it sure looks to be true.

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