Over the past few years, educators have moved away from traditional desks and adopted flexible seating practices — and they’re seeing positive results. If you’re considering adding new seating options, keep reading to learn more about the benefits and find options that are right for your classroom.
Benefits of flexible seating
Adopting a flexible seating arrangement in your classroom can amplify your learning environment and instructional practices. These are just some of the advantages of doing away with conventional desks:
- It gives students a voice in their learning: Students learn best when they feel like they have a say in their learning environment. By giving students the choice of where they’d like to work, you’re showing them that you trust them to decide where they are most comfortable and able to do their best work.
- It helps students focus: We all know students who never seem to stop moving — tapping, squirming, and sometimes bouncing right out of their seats. By providing active seating, you can channel that energy in a positive way so that students are better able to focus on the task at hand. Just like handheld fidgets, wobble stools, wiggle seats, ball chairs, and stability balls can provide movement outlets for students without disrupting the entire class.
- It promotes healthy movement: Combine sitting during the school day with an increase in screen time outside of school, and you have students who can be sedentary up to 13 hours a day, which increases their risk for health issues. Versatile options like standing desks promote movement throughout the day as they allow students to easily transition from sitting to standing. Along with the health benefits, studies have shown that classrooms with standing desks had 12% greater on-task student engagement.
- It can help decrease behavior issues: When students feel trusted and supported, have an outlet for their excess energy, and can focus on the task at hand, they’re less likely to act out in negative ways. To ensure a smooth transition to a flexible seating environment, make sure you set expectations and model proper behavior for each of your seating options.
- It promotes collaboration: Rearranging desks when you want students to partner up or work in small groups can cut into your instructional time. With flexible seating such as bean bag chairs, mobile standing desks, or ball chairs, students can easily move seating to collaborate anywhere there’s open space, making activity transitions quick, easy, and efficient.
- It can provide a safe space to decompress: Every teacher knows that asking a student to get a handle on their emotions while confined to their desk is asking too much. By providing alternatives such as an Inflatable Peapod Chair or an entire calming corner, you can enable students to take a break to self-regulate without interrupting class time. Read more about how to easily create a calming corner.
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Considerations when buying flexible seating
Purchasing new furnishings for your classroom is a big investment. Consider these factors to help make choices that best fit your classroom and your students.
- Your students’ ages: There are so many different options for flexible seating, and many of them can work across grade levels. However, some seating is available at different heights, such as the Kore Wobble Chairs, which range from toddler-size to adult height. You may also have students with special needs who need choices that are easy to transition in and out of.
- What you’re using the furniture for: Sitting on an exercise ball while working on a science experiment might not be the best idea, but using the same chair for sitting at a desk or table for math time can improve focus. Think about the variety of activities your students do during the day and look for seating options that can accommodate them.
- Your room layout: You probably already have designated areas for different tasks in your classroom. Look for ways to provide different seating within those instructional areas. This may mean you plan a corner with a table and chairs where you can meet with reading groups, offer sit-stand desks that move around the room, create a reading nook with bean bags or a collaborative area with a write-on-wipe-off table, or have scoop rockers stacked in the corner when students need an active seat for independent reading time.
- Your students’ safety: It can be tempting to purchase secondhand furniture or mix donated furniture into your classroom to save costs. However, noncommercial-grade furniture can pose risks to students. Commercial-grade furniture is designed for learning environments and features increased cleanability and durability, helping to prevent allergens and resist moisture such as bodily fluids. Commercial furniture also features materials that meet the fire rating for schools and won’t emit noxious fumes in the event of a fire.
Embrace the benefits of flexible seating
Incorporating flexible seating in your classroom can have numerous benefits for both you and your students. By providing students with a voice in their learning, helping them focus, promoting healthy movement, reducing behavior issues, fostering collaboration, and creating safe spaces for decompression, flexible seating can transform your learning environment into a more inclusive and engaging space.
Remember, finding the right balance between comfort, functionality, and safety is key. Explore the wide range of options available and discover the positive impact of flexible seating on your students’ learning journey.