Floor cushions as movement motivation for children and early years practitioners
It’s a dramatic development. Children and young people are moving less and less. From 2007 to 2019 alone, the daily physical activity of 4 to 17-year-olds fell by 37 per cent, according to the long-term study “Motorik-Modul” (MoMo).
It has long been undisputed that regular physical activity results in great health benefits. This is especially true in older years, when individual physiological processes differentiate and create an important health basis for the decades of life that follow.
However, when children start nursery, the amount of time they spend in a sedentary position increases significantly. Other studies show that the older children and young people get, the more time they spend sitting. Only 26 per cent of adolescents manage to complete the 60 minutes of daily physical activity recommended by the WHO. In addition to how computers, smartphones, game consoles, and televisions are used without a second thought, sitting for hours at a time at nursery and school is proving to be a massive impediment to their development. The “concept of floor-based behaviour” presented here seeks to stop and reverse this negative trend – for both children and early years practitioners.
The key tool in this concept: floor cushions.
Caution – Lack of movement!
The consequences of children not moving enough are varied. These not only entail insufficient muscle strength, excess weight, and delayed development, but even the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease increases dramatically. But how is it possible to counteract the lack of movement? The answer: Rooms should be designed in such a way that they not only enable, but also require physical activity that meets needs and promotes development.
Variety is the guiding principle
An important prerequisite for this enhanced indoor physical activity is movable and flexible furniture. This is the only way to reduce, and perhaps even avoid, the static and passive sedentary posture that has been commonplace to date – a posture that is a health hazard. The primary objective must be to enable active and dynamic sitting and as many positional changes as possible. In addition to standing desks and ‘standing islands’, floor cushions of different sizes can also help here. By serving as an invitation to move, these cushions not only benefit the children but also their guardians.
Enabling children to move
Anyone who observes children will know: Even on the customary rigid and mostly wooden seats, they quickly start to slide back and forth or wobble. Such behaviour, which is often suppressed by early years practitioners, is a natural and healthy desire to move. This is exactly where floor cushions come in. They have been proven to induce much more active movement behaviour and are real movement promoters – by encouraging positional changes such as lying, sitting, squatting, and crouching on the floor.
Floor cushions – it all comes down to this
This naturally raises the question of how floor cushions should be designed to support the natural urge to move, which is so important for development. They should be different shapes and sizes. Shape stability must also be permanently guaranteed. Ultimately, it is precisely these different shapes and sizes that encourage intuitive and variable changes in posture and position. It is also an added bonus if they allow for versatile and imaginative combinations. Only in this way will it be possible that children also use and regard them as elements of play and movement.
It is important for early years practitioners to have sufficient lumber support when using the floor cushions. They should be able to actively shift themselves forward when sitting, for example. Because even for adults, rhythmic and needs-based positional changes are indispensable when it comes to back health.
All of this must be made possible by material properties that do not create unpleasant pressure points, that prevent excessive sinking-in, and thus create spontaneous posture variability. It is also important that the cover material is removable and washable. And of course, there must also be proof that the materials used are free of harmful substances.