Parents may be breathing a collective sigh of relief as children up and down the country are returning to school, but it’s back to the grindstone with projects and homework for little ones as young as four, whilst revision and exams loom for older children and teenagers. To make life easier for everyone why not create the perfect study environment, where children will no longer find homework and revision a chore and parents will no longer need to nag. Sounds too good to be true? Read on!
Desks versus bean bags
As a rule most parents opt for a traditional desk and chair arrangement when it comes to choosing furniture for their child’s study area, with the idea that sitting in a more structured environment will bring discipline to studying. However recent studies have found that rigid wooden or plastic seating tends to make children fidget, taking their attention away from their work to how they are sitting.
At the same time it is important to have seating for children that support the spine correctly to avoid putting strain on these delicate, developing bones and back and neck muscles. The full length of the spine, but particularly the lumbar region, should remain in contact with the chair back at all times for it to give sufficient support, and few desk chairs offer this. It is a common sight to see children hunched over in a desk chair with spine bent and shoulders and neck muscles tensed, or sliding down in a chair with their bottoms at the edges of chairs and only their shoulders touching the chair back: two positions that are guaranteed to cause an aching back and headaches, and certainly not conducive to effective studying.
The benefits of supportive bean bags
Many educational organisations, from nurseries and libraries to schools and colleges, are now recognising the impact that providing fully supportive seating for children can have on their concentration and are investing in bean bags as a solution. Good quality bean bags are filled with superior virgin-grade polystyrene beads that contour to the body, providing all-round support. When sitting in a bean bag, children are comfortable and relaxed. They can focus their attention on reading, revising and studying without being distracted by uncomfortable pins and needles, plastic sticking to their legs in hot weather or rough seat edges rubbing the backs of their knees.
Opting for a beanbag with a higher back, such as a teardrop-shaped beanbag will ensure that the neck and head are adequately supported for long periods of sitting, whilst a versatile bean bag such as the children’s Baz Bag will provide opportunity to frequently change position – a great way to keep muscles relaxed and joints flexible. Smaller bean bag seat pods or cubes, which are perfect for short spells of sitting, are easily stacked in a corner or cupboard and are highly portable. All children’s bean bags are lightweight and some have a useful carry handle, enabling children themselves to move them around with ease.
The practicalities of using bean bags in schools
Bean bags also offer great value for money for parents, students and organisations alike. The teardrop XXL study chairs, Baz Bags, seat pods and cubes are all available in packs of five at a special price to entice schools and libraries to invest. Parents buying one or two bean bags for the home will still discover reasonable prices for a fun, attractive, supportive seat for their child.
Children’s bean bags have the added benefit of being highly durable, with an insert bag for the filling, double zips and double stitched seems to minimise the risk of splitting. They are manufactured in wipe-clean, water-resistant 100% polyester or washable 100% cotton, making it easy to deal with the inevitable spills and accidents that occur around children.
Fabric designs vary widely from a rainbow of colours to robots, butterflies, pirates, owls, official Jacqueline Wilson designs and many more, allowing plenty of choice for children to express their individuality and complement interiors in the home. Over time, bean bags may need a top-up of filling to retain their good support and high level of comfort, but with top-ups easily available and simple to insert, this is no problem.
Designating a quiet, calm area to studying, with relaxed, supportive seating and plenty of light enables children and teenagers to work more effectively, leading to less stressful study time and also leaving them more free time to enjoy their childhood. Parents in their turn can hopefully spend less time hovering and nagging, so home life all round should be more peaceful.
Andy Atkins is a commentator, writer and former director of several businesses in the homewares field, as well as acting as an adviser to 3 schools. He’s passionate about the need for open-mindedness when it comes to trying-out new educational techniques and is a supporter of the UK’s introduction of Forest Schools for outdoor learning and the development of improved products to support SEN professionals and students.