Flexible seating is becoming more and more relevant in classrooms across the country, as teachers try to provide increased engagement in classrooms. There is a lot to consider in adapting flexible seating, including the students’ ages, classroom size, special needs students, and individual student needs.
Once you decide you want to try flexible seating in your classroom, what type of furniture do you invest in?
Your first consideration is what you are going to use the furniture for. Doing science experiments sitting on an exercise ball is not the smartest idea, but using those same balls for sitting at a desk encourages independent choice and improves focus. Some classrooms keep the desks and provide a section of the room for flexible furniture. Others clear out the entire room and replace the furniture with a variety of alternatives.
There are many benefits of flexible seating in the classroom, such as:
When students are uncomfortable, it’s hard to pay attention. Flexible seating allows student to find comfortable seating that matches their needs or moods.
Connected to comfort is being able to move more than just swinging feet. When students cannot move, they become distracted or distractive. New seating alternatives allow students to stretch, bounce, fidget, wobble, bounce, and roll, giving those minute body movements an outlet.
Flexible environments, such as tall tables and stools, encourage students to work together in groups. Traditional desks get in the way of sharing ideas and work. Flexible seating allows students to collaborate without pushing desks together all the time.
Students learn best when they feel they have a say in their education. Giving them a choice of where to sit and how to sit allows them to change their position and location if need be.
Some ideas to add variety to your classroom:
Equipped with or without a cushion, low tables represent an option for kids who don’t sit well at desks all day long. Students can use a low table to kneel, sit cross-legged, or even sit on top of as they work on group projects.
High tables are perfect for stools or high-backed chairs. Some tables come in adjustable heights, enabling you to change the height depending on the class. Of course, regular height tables work perfectly for group work too. Tables enable groups of students to work with a common center, rather than individual spots as with desks.
Adjustable Height Standing Desks
Students have a hard time sitting at a desk day after day. Offering students a chance to stand while doing class work gives their legs time to stretch and blood to circulate. One of our standing desks are right for your classroom.
Many students respond well to using exercise balls (also known as stability balls, yoga balls, or balance balls) because they offer a range of motion while encouraging students to focus. These balls encourage kids to adopt and practice a healthy posture while building core strength from active sitting and playing in the classroom. It also gives students a chance to bounce quietly if needed. These balls come in different sizes and can be used as computer or desk table seats.
Always a comfortable alternative to sitting at a desk, pillows cushion the floors and walls while students sit and read or write. The bigger, the better! (Maybe a four-square pillow?)
These seats are perfect seating for elementary students. Colorful, inflatable, molded heavy-duty rolls can aid in developing muscles, coordination, and balance. This peanut-shaped ball can be used as either a straddle seat or a bench, making it adaptable for different activities.
The design of a beanbag chair is perfect for reading. Beanbag chairs are also effective because they’re appropriate for both group activities and activities that require quiet, solitary work.
These chairs help students concentrate as they move slightly in their chair. Their shallow, 4-position seating allows the seat pan to tilt slightly in all directions (7° side-to-side movement, 5° front-to-back movement). This is a favorite for students who need to wiggle a little when sitting.
Stools allow students to adopt different — and, frequently, healthier — postures than conventional seating arrangements. Stools with high tables or back bars are also useful because they give students the ability to switch between sitting and standing within the same working or studying session. (Take a look at our selection!)
Wobble chairs encourage active sitting and provide light exercise for the legs, back, and core. Usually designed with a gently rounded ergonomic base, these innovative chairs allow student’s knees, hips, and back to find comfortable and ever-changing positions. (Nasco has a great selection of Wobble chairs in all colors. Plus, take a look at the teen-sized chairs!)
Flexible seating might not work in every classroom. Depending on the temperament, age, and courses taught, sitting at a desk might give students the familiarity they need to study.
But flexible seating doesn’t have to be the same in every classroom. You can choose just a few pieces to give students a choice of which furniture is conducive to learning. Flexible seating provides children options based on their needs and where they feel comfortable. You will find flexible seating is an incentive that makes the learning environment more fun and student-centered.
Wondering how to turn your classroom into a flexible seating classroom? Check out our Flexible Seating Blog Series featuring Shauni Sawchuck from Henderson, NV: