Flexible seating has been becoming more and more popular over the years. You almost can't log on to Pinterest without seeing beanbag chairs, tire seats, and couches in classrooms around the world. However, setting up flexible seating can be expensive and time consuming to set up. So is it really worth it?
Let's take a closer look.
WHAT THE RESEARCH SAYS
Flexible seating has been studied over and over again. It shows that "Children who participate in short bouts of physical activity within the classroom have more on-task behavior, with the best improvement seen in students who are least on-task initially."
This is HUGE. With recess being cut and more focus being put on test scores and data, we have to give our kids as many opportunities as we can to move their bodies. Teachers have known this for years and we are finally getting the research data to back us up.
There is also research done my psychologists, doctor's, and therapists. You can read more about the research here.
BENEFITS OF FLEXIBLE SEATING
Flexible seating allows our students to be more engaged in the learning process. It also helps our jobs as educator to be more enjoyable. Let's look at some of the top benefits of flexible seating. Then you can decide if it's right for you.
1. Student Choice
We all know that students feel empowered and more engaged when they have some choice over their learning. This applies to their work environment as well. The world is a fast-paced, ever changing environment that is full of problems and choices. How can we expect our students to become independent problem solvers if we are constantly making all of their decisions for them?
2. Physical Health
Moving, stretching, and sitting in different positions helps our students physically. Not only does it burn more calories, it strengthens their core, allows more oxygen to flow to their brain, and helps keep them focused. (See the research articles above for more information.)
3. Community and Collaboration
Oskar Cymerman, a high school teacher in MN said, "I’ve come to the conclusion that desks promote compliance, while coffee shop-style seating encourages community-building through increased and intentional emphasis on communication and collaboration.” (neaToday, Sept 23, 2016).
Flexible seating allows our students to work together and collaborate in new ways every day. They are learning to problem solve, not only by choosing their seat, but also by working with, and around, other students.
Flexible seating allows the space to quickly partner up, work in small groups, or work together as a class.
4. Engagement and Focus
Flexible seating keeps our kids focused and more engaged. A study from the University of Minnesota found that students participated 48 percent more in discussions in a classroom with collaborative group seating than traditional seating. It also improved their performance on test scores.
Giving our students choice also helps them take more ownership of their learning. When they are choosing a seat to help them become their best learning selves, they are actively engaged in their learning process. (The extra blood flow to their brain through movement doesn't hurt either!)
Flexible seating is fun. Not only does it look fun, it also creates a calm, relaxed environment. Students stress levels will go down and they can continue to do their best work.
So after all of this, do I think it's worth the time and expense? ABSOLUTELY. The benefits far outweigh any negatives that come with flexible seating.
While flexible seating is amazing, it can still be expensive. Here are some ideas of ways you can add to your flexible seating stash:
- thrift stores
- administration purchases
- retiring teachers
- garage sales
- dollar stores
- Big Lots or 5 and Below
- Donor's Choose
- friends and family
- clearance sections in furniture stores/Walmart/Target
- garden section clearance at the end of the season