Flexible Seating in First Grade, by Mary Lirette

Posted by Amy Smythe on 1/31/2017 9:05:00 AM

Flexible Seating

In 1st Grade at Woodland Presbyterian School, we believe in individualizing and differentiating our classrooms. We use flexible seating and it has transformed my classroom into a student-centered space that promotes movement and engagement.

Research tells us that physical activity enhances the learning process. The brain learns best when it is actively involved. It makes sense that movement and learning should go hand in hand. We know students love to move, play and engage with one another in ways that are not always conducive to sitting in chairs for long periods of time.   I find this true for adults as well! Therefore, students need to be given the option to move around and find positions that are comfortable, beneficial and supportive of their learning processes.

What might this look like?

If you were to walk into my classroom you would see students in various workspaces. Students regularly utilize groups of traditional desks and chairs, tables, stability balls, “scoop” rockers, wobble seat stools, beanbag chairs, a wooden bench, crate seats, cube seats, etc.   It is also very common to see boys and girls stretched out across the carpet with a clipboard or curled up on the floor with a book. My students are encouraged to explore and find a space that works for them allowing for maximum performance and engagement.

In my experience, I have found that non-traditional furniture in the classroom promotes student collaboration, caters to various learning styles, and increases student motivation. It also gives students an outlet for excess energy and improves their core body strength. By encouraging flexible seating, I have noticed a decrease in the requests for random bathroom breaks and water breaks. My students no longer need an excuse to get up and move for a minute.   Students change positions as needed in an effort to remain focused and on task. By promoting flexible seating choices, students are able to take an active role in their own learning process and work towards academic success. This gives greater opportunity for the teacher to serve in a facilitator role in the classroom. These student-led opportunities are beneficial for students as they foster a deeper understanding of content and promote critical and logical thinking skills.

-Mary Lirette, First Grade Teacher