All Hallows Elementary in North River Grade 1 students Avery Yetman (left) and Kearsten Jackman sit on the new Hokki stools being used by the school.
The Grade 1 students at All Hallows Elementary in North River are sitting a bit differently these days.
Instead of the traditional four-legged hard plastic chair, students like Avery Yetman and Kearsten Jackman are using Hokki Stools in the classroom.
The school ordered 64 stools as a pilot project which cost some $10,000 through its instructional budget.
Shaped like a mushroom, the stools are made of rubber and plastic and allow students to move in all directions. With a convex base, they promote better posture and free students from the constraints of the traditional chair.
“They’re great,” said Avery.
There was a bit of an adjustment period for students. All of a sudden they were free to move as they pleased in class without being scolded or reprimanded by their teacher.
“Once the novelty wore off, they settled in,” said teacher Lois Petten.
The immediate returns have been great for the school. Teachers report students are paying attention in class more.
This increased attention means students are gaining more from instruction.
“I think they’re excellent,” said Petten. “They certainly help for children who need to be on the move.”
You won’t hear any complaints coming from students.
When asked what they liked most about their new stools, Avery and Kearsten both smiled and noted the enhanced mobility they were being provided.
“It helps me think,” said Kearsten.
“They’re in my favourite colour,” added Avery.
Watching a classroom session in action, students are more engaged in what they’re doing. It allows them to balance their need to keep on the move and ability to learn.
The stools also promote proper postures in students and build core strength.
“They’re definitely more attentive,” said Petten.
The stools fall directly in line with the school’s philosophy of children being active and engaged, said principal Kevin Giles.
Giles was the driving force behind the acquisition of 64 stools for the school after seeing them at a conference in Alberta last year.
“We are about having classrooms that are more inviting and engage kids more,” he said.
The stools do not make noise, they are safe for the children to use and are easy to clean and store.
They also promote an active lifestyle, according to Giles. While not exercise-driven, the stools build the core strength in students as they move the stool.
“It’s the whole philosophy of fidgeting boosts the brain,” he said. “An active body means an active brain and an engaged brain.”
When speaking with teachers about the stools and how they are being received, Giles said they have been telling him classes are a bit quicker.
“They’re telling me the tempo is up,” he said.
This increase in tempo and rhythm could be attributed to fewer interruptions as a result of students squeaking their chairs or being restless.
“(Students) are in with the flow now,” said Giles.
The stools move classrooms away from the traditional and do away with some of the conformity that confine students.
And, that’s OK with Giles.
“I think schools need to be different and I think schools need to go beyond the tradition,” he said.
These stools are being viewed as a pilot project at the school, although chances are good more grades could be receiving them.
“The one constant question I keep getting is when are we getting them in our class,” said Giles.