In the last several years, flexible seating has become a new evolution in education.
When you think about flexible seating, you think about ;
- Having a choice in your seating options
- A variety of options for seating
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.
Flexible seating has been shown to have a variety of benefits for both educators and students.
9 Benefits Of Flexible Seating In Education;
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.
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Having a choice in seating allows the students to feel empowered and will enable them to have some control over their environment. When allowing students to have an option, it will let them choose their positions and location within the classroom environment. It also allows them to have a choice in where, how, and with whom they work with which in turns builds higher-order thinking skills.
2. Physical Health.
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 flexible seating allows students to be more alert and focused. There is also a link between higher academic performance and more on-task behavior.
When students are comfortable, they are more alert, stay on task, and are productive. Flexible seating allows the students to find and use their best way to be productive and focused throughout the class. If the students are comfortable, they are willing to learn and will enjoy it more.
4. Building A Sense Of Community.
When using traditional desks, students may become possessive over their space and supplies. However, when utilizing flexible seating, it 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.
This is a significant benefit because in the world we live in today, collaboration is needed in all working environments. When using flexible seating in the classroom, collaboration can occur more efficiently 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 students’ achievement. When utilizing flexible seating, teachers have less control while students have more control which in turn improves students’ engagement.
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.
With flexible seating, students and teachers have more open communication because choices have to be made. This, in turn, builds problem-solving skills, emotional skills (conflict resolution), and higher order thinking skills. Students can communicate with each other easier, and group work/assignments become more engaging and interactive.
8. Sensory Input.
Flexible seating stimulates students’ sense of touch.
Students with ASD, ADHD, and/or ADD benefit from this type of seating because it allows them to move freely while focusing on the task at hand. Processing information becomes easier when students use flexible seating. 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 of teaching philosophy and structure. Teachers will have higher levels of student engagement and have 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.
Flexible seating allows for many opportunities for both students and teachers. The possibilities of 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.
When using this type of seating, it builds skills towards 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/her learning.
When students, teachers and if applicable, special needs tutors are involved with the learning process, everyone benefits.