Innovative Focus Desk Design from Marvel Group Promotes Student Concentration Through Movement

CHICAGO, IL – 12/9/2015 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — For years, psychologists and teachers have recognized that children with learning differences like ADHD and dyslexia need to have “movement breaks” during the school day. These breaks – like sending the child on an errand to the library or out to get a drink of water – were seen as opportunities to release the pressure of nervous energy that made it difficult for these children to behave “appropriately.” Appropriate behavior, in this approach, was defined as sitting still and, from the teacher’s perspective, staying focused.

But what if true focus in a child with learning differences doesn’t fit that model? New research suggests that fidgeting and squirming by children with learning differences actually reflects a coping mechanism that enhances the child’s focus. According to a 2014 study from the University of Central Florida, children with ADHD can better access their working memory when they have sensory feedback from movement. Working memory is essential to processing multi-step directions, keeping track of short term learning, and thereby successfully completing tasks. This benefit of unconscious movement has to be accessed as the need arises; sending the restless child out for a walk interrupts the learning process.

In addition, research from Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. James Levine suggests that the benefits of movement in learning extend to the general population of students. According to Dr. Levine, forced inactivity hinders children’s ability to learn and also contributes to the national epidemic of childhood obesity.

The better approach, then, is to find ways to accommodate all students’ need for movement in ways that promote self-regulation and minimize classroom disruption. These accommodations are based on personal self-awareness and responsibility, and therefore can be integrated into any mainstreamed class setting for all students. A classroom environment that teaches how to move in a non-disruptive way will be supportive of those needs. This approach has the very important advantage of not singling out the children who are dealing with the added challenge of learning differences.

To create classrooms that support self-regulated movement, schools need to look at both classroom equipment and policy. Next-generation classroom desks feature specialized design elements that enable children to satisfy their movement needs without interrupting the teacher or distracting others. One novel approach, developed by The Marvel Group in cooperation with the Hyde Park Day School, employs a student-controlled silent lift mechanism that enables students to shift from sitting to standing whenever needed, without disrupting the class. The Focus Desk offers adjustability and versatility that represent a major improvement over fixed standing desks, which do not respond to a student’s changing needs, or desks that can only be adjusted with help from a teacher or custodian. The Focus Desk also includes lockable casters to make desk re-arrangements easy, integrated file hangers to help with organization, and drop shelves to provide extra work space, and other unique features designed by suggested by teachers.

As for policy, teachers must be willing to empower children to be in charge of their physical state in the classroom.  Effective teaching in such a setting includes guidance on how to satisfy the need to move in responsible, non-disruptive ways. Teachers who encourage self-regulation provide their students with skills that will last throughout their school years and beyond.

For more information about the Focus Desk, visit

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