Do you want to help your students learn more effectively and get excited about coming to school? If so, flexible seating may be the answer!
What is flexible seating?
In the last several years, flexible seating has become a new evolution in education. When most people think of flexible seating, they may imagine a classroom filled with yoga balls as chairs. But there are many other types as well, such as wobble stools or standing desks.
In the classroom environment, this looks different than what you are typically accustomed to, which includes desks facing towards the front or tables with chairs.
The difference is:
- Having a choice in your seating options
- A variety of options for seating
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9 Flexible Seating Benefits In Education
Flexible seating has been shown to have a variety of benefits for both educators and students.
1. The Power of Choice
This is a significant improvement and the correct direction in education because the goal for all students is to allow them to have a choice in their education.
Having a choice in seating allows the students to feel empowered and will enable them to have some control over their environment. It also allows them to have a choice in where, how, and with whom they work with which in turn builds higher-order thinking skills.
2. Better Physical Health
Sitting in traditional desks and chairs for long periods of time can lead to poor posture and physical health problems down the road.
Students need to be able to move around during the school day. When using flexible seating, the students are allowed to rock, lean, stand, etc., which in turn keeps them more alert because it increases oxygen to the brain.
Flexible seating also helps build core strength, burns calories, and increases metabolism. The physical activity that is associated with a variety of seating arrangements allows students to be more alert and focused.
There is also a link between higher academic performance and more on-task behavior.
3. Comfort Helps With Focus
When students are able to choose their own seat, they are also able to find a seating arrangement that works best for them. This means that they are more likely to be comfortable, which can lead to improved focus and concentration, staying on task, and being more productive.
Check out these 2 Brilliant Ways to Get Kids to Sit Still and Focus on Learning.
4. Building A Sense Of Community.
When using traditional desks, students may become possessive over their space and supplies. However, when utilizing flexible seating, allows the students to share both.
Flexible seating also allows the students to choose, take turns, and share different locations, supplies, and seating options. This is a benefit for students because, in the real world, employers want people who can productively work with others and can adapt to change.
5. More Opportunities for Collaboration
This is a significant benefit because in the world we live in today, collaboration is needed in all working environments. When giving students a choice of how and where they sit in the classroom, collaboration can occur more efficiently.
This is because students can quickly and easily pair up, work in small groups, and have whole class discussions without moving desks.
Collaboration is continuously happening in the world today with the use of social media and Wi-Fi availability. The classroom environment needs to be conducive to this type of collaboration as well. Another reason flexible seating is a huge benefit for the classroom environment.
6. Learning Commitment
Learning environments have a direct impact on student’s achievement. When utilizing flexible seating, teachers have less control while students have more control which in turn improves students’ engagement.
Studies have shown that students who are able to move around during class are more likely to pay attention and retain information than those who are confined to a desk.
When students have control of their environment, it becomes more personal and allows for ownership. The classroom environment becomes “ours” instead of “the teacher’s.” This switch allows the students to be invested in their education.
7. More Communication
With choosing where they sit, students and teachers have more open communication because choices have to be made. This, in turn, builds:
- Problem-solving skills
- Emotional skills (conflict resolution)
- Higher-order thinking skills
Students can communicate with each other easier and group work assignments become more engaging and interactive.
8. Sensory Needs Fulfilled
Flexible seating stimulates students’ sense of touch.
Students with ASD, ADHD, or ADD benefit from this type of seating because it allows them to move freely while focusing on the task at hand. This helps processing information easier. Sensory input will enable students to be less disruptive because they are able to use excess energy.
This also allows them to focus on the tasks and cuts down on disciplinary incidents and behaviors.
9. Mindset Shift
Redesigning the classroom to allow for flexible seating allows for a change in teaching philosophy and structure. Teachers will have higher levels of student engagement and a better idea of what the students are working on.
While giving up the power of the seating chart, the teacher will gain more structure in the classroom.
Flexible seating allows the students to be more self-aware of the seating types and the environment in which they learn best. A shift in mindset allows the students to know and understand that mistakes happen, and when those occur, learning is taking place.
A mindset shift is beneficial for both students and teachers.
The possibilities for flexible seating are endless. Using flexible seating allows the students to develop critical lifelong skills, including problem-solving, flexibility, creativity, self-reflection, autonomy, and collaboration.
Why is flexible seating important in the classroom?
As you can see, there are many benefits to this type of seating arrangement in the classroom! If you’re looking for ways to improve focus, engagement, and collaboration among your students, then consider giving flexible seating a try!
When using this type of seating, it builds skills toward independent learning so they can become proactive learners instead of reactive learners. The ultimate goal of any educator should be to allow the students to have opportunities to choose and be an active participate in his learning.
When students, teachers, and if applicable, special needs tutors are involved with the learning process, everyone benefits.
I am championing more alternative seating for our District’s 18 elementary schools. All of the above make total sense as assumptions, but validation of their benefits would be a big help. Are you aware of any studies supporting the above that I can reference with our district administrators and school board?
Many thanks for your help!
Here are some available resources (study) in regards to the flexible seating supporting alternative seating.
Please let me know if I can be of anymore assistance.
Thanks for the resources that have the studies included. This is most helpful.