It’s more than just a cute rubber frog in the corner or a polka dotted wobble chair in the reading corner. Flexible seating can bring so many benefits to your classroom and your students. I have my favorites but first, let’s chat about the benefits of flexible seating and why I am a firm believer in using them in all lower elementary classrooms, especially Kindergarten.
Benefits Of Flexible Seating
Flexible seating, when given the opportunity, gives children a sense of choice. Within the perameters of your classroom management, students can have a choice of which seat fits them best. If they like a wobbly seat, they can choose that. If they choose a more squishy, bean bag style, they can make that decision. Not only is this helping every student have a seat that is comfortable for them, but allows them a sense of responsibility. This is beneficial in all aspects of their lives. As they grow up, and as we know, the world is full of moments of decision making. We can help encourage them to learn to make decisions on bigger things when we allow them to choose on the smaller things.
As I mentioned in #1, they can choose what they are comfortable in. How many times has a student complained that their bum hurts from the ‘traditional’ chair? It distracts them in a negative way and causes issues with their focus on learning. While we want them to learn to push through those distractions, providing a seat that is legitimately comfortable for them is not a bad thing! This will actually lead them to being more calm, collected and in turn more productive in learning.
- Working Together
I remember, growing up, anytime we were going to work in small groups or partners, the desks or tables would need to be moved. How much easier is it to have the flexible seating, around the room, so when pairs or small groups need to be formed, the distance between the groups are already created. Time is saved and their environment is given a little more variety. This will help students level of concentration, collaboration and creativity.
- Physical Health
We know that kids need to move!! Not only to get the wiggles out but for their health. Seats that rock, bounce, lean or are standing will help encourage this, subconsciously, for children. These opportunities will help with core strength. Also, when we move, the blood flow to the brain is increased – which in turn helps with concentration, memory and on task behavior.
- Sharing Is Caring
The traditional desk situation can lead to children feeling possessive over their ‘own space’. While this is great for responsibility (students need to keep their space tidy), flexible seating can lead to more of an essence of community. This will help students practice the concept of sharing and taking turns. This can also lead to development of problem solving skills, communicating and conflict resolution.
- Sensory Input
Many of the flexible seating options available today provide children an opportunity to stimulate their sense of touch. This will promote higher level of thinking and information processing. This can be especially helpful for students with ADD, ADHD, and ASD.
- It Is Fun
We can all agree sitting on a bouncing chair is more fun than a strict, stiff chair. It’s just true. Students who belong to a classroom with flexible seating are more encouraged to want to go to school, to enjoy school. This enthusiasm will in turn encourage them to be more active and engaged in learning.
Tips For Beginning & Incorporating Flexible Seating
- Remember to be flexible. There are not specific rules when it comes to flexible seating. Make it work for you and your students.
- Classroom Management is crucial. Create a system to make the option of choosing a seat fair and nondisruptive. You don’t have to make flexible seating available for every situation or every minute in the classroom. This is especially true if you are just beginning your flexible seating collection. Create a plan before introducing the new seats to your students.
- Start out slow. This is not a race, you DO NOT have to buy all the things all at one time. Try discount stores, thrift stores or online marketplaces for extra good deals.
- When you are purchasing and implementing, remember the ‘WHY’ behind it, instead of the actual stuff.
My Favorite Flexible Seating Options
Work From The Floor
While flexible seating can become expensive very quickly, it doesn’t have to. Many of these are reasonable priced but you can also check thrift stores, discount teacher stores and even online marketplaces.