flexible seating

Flexible Seating: New-Age Classrooms ‘Moving’ to Meet the Needs and Comforts of All Students

Sara Cohen
Over the past two school years, our OneChurchill elementary school teachers have been transforming the physical environment of our classrooms to create more appropriate, student-centered spaces. Why? Our students are individuals with individual needs. Thus, we are helping to teach our youngest scholars to discover how they are most comfortable within each of their classrooms in order to best meet their individual learning styles. Yes, this begins as early as Kindergarten. I’m certain we can all relate to this idea. Some of us are more comfortable sitting on the floor, some more comfortable at a standing desk, others more comfortable sitting on a yoga ball or hokki stool, and some prefer what we may now refer to as “traditional chairs.” So, why not accommodate these differences? The answer is, we CAN accommodate these differences and we ARE doing just that, as you can see from the photographs.

What is the point of flexible seating?
Flexible seating promotes student choice, better physical health, a collaborative classroom community, necessary sensory input and much, much more! By incorporating flexible seating options in our elementary school classrooms we are empowering our youngest students to have some choice and control over their learning environment. Providing students with choice helps them to become life-long problem solvers as they grow and develop. Our OneChurchill community also recognizes that children need to move. They need to bounce, wobble, stand, lean, lounge, etc. Our students have been showing us their need for movement, as we’ve watched them wiggle and wobble in their seats for years, and all these years they were confined to more traditional seating options. Traditional seating options made it more likely for students to disengage from lessons and activities. Now, the ability to move is built into their space; consequently, students are better able to focus on the lesson, rather than being distracted by their need to move or be in a different position.

Flexible seating is in essence exactly what it claims to be: flexible! Having a flexible classroom allows students opportunities to quickly and freely move around their work spaces to learn in pairs and small collaborative groups. Simultaneously, students are learning to share communal spaces, rather than claiming territory over a particular desk and chair. Not only are we accommodating student differences and preferences in our elementary school classrooms, we are also creating more flexible environments for teachers. Every lesson and activity is different, so why shouldn’t teachers have the ability to change the way furniture is organized and situated within their classrooms? With more flexible furniture options in our classrooms, teachers now have the opportunity to make small table groups, learning circles, stack and/or push tables to the perimeter of classrooms for floor learning, etc. Personally, I find it very exciting as I walk through the halls of the second floor and peak into classrooms, recognizing that learning environments look very different than they did the day before!
Do you wish you could go back to the classroom and have flexible seating options?
We have not yet figured out how to go back in time, so I have a solution! Check out the pictures of your children utilizing flexible seating options in their classrooms. Current Churchill parents can find photos on our website by visiting class pages. Additionally, for prospective families, please take notice of flexible seating choices when you are visiting Churchill and feel free to ask the teachers if you can try a variety of options. After all, it’s never too late to learn what works best for you!
Sara L. Cohen
Elementary School Principal