Kids find it hard to keep still. And yet this is what we expect of them at school, for hours on end. There they sit, stuck in neatly aligned rows of desks, when they actually need regular movement and play to rest and recharge. It’s also their way of learning key social skills, which are as important as academic competence. And so Mandy van der Heijden created The Odd Ones: classroom furniture with a playful twist. Jumping, spinning, rolling and climbing – it all becomes possible when children are finally given room to move.

"In order to learn, kids need to go upside down, spin in circles and roll down hills. They need authentic play experiences that get them moving in all different directions."

Being physically active on a daily basis is very important for our well being and we all know it. But we not always live up to it. A big factor in this matter is our daily obligation such as work and school. With a mostly sedentary job it’s not that easy to get your thirty minutes of action every day. But as adults we have the option to get up from our chair, walk to the coffee machine, walk to other side of the office, simply to stretch our legs. But we don’t give this option to children. We expect them to sit still in school for around six hours a day. The image of the still quiet classrooms with neatly aligned desks unfortunately requires that some students spend most of their energy dealing with physical restrictions rather than learning. It goes against the nature of a childs to spend their day sedentary. They need regular movement to keep focussed, concentrated and motivated during class.

It’s the alternation between classes and free-play that gives children the opportunity to develop social competence. While playing, they not only rest and recharge, they also learn to corporate, communicate, and compromise, all skills they need to succeed academically and in life.

Imagery: Paul de Groot
Models: Sara, Gijs en Flo