The traditional image of school classrooms with identical desk seating in rows is fast becoming obsolete in favour of a bold new choice of classroom design. One that encourages choice and ownership of the space for students. We are talking about the growing trend that is flexible seating.
As part of a district wide classroom redesign in Kansas, Tescott Elementary have joined a number of other schools in the USA who are empowering students by introducing flexible seating options for its students.
So what is flexible seating? A growing concept of creating learning spaces wherein children take turns going first picking their preferred seating in the classroom, children select from a list of possibilities from traditional seats, wobble stools, floor mats, standing desks, crate seats, metal chairs, rocking chairs and various other teacher selected options all reflecting the character of individual class types and teacher preferences. The options encourage a relaxed mind-set and ensure students vary their physical positions throughout the day in the hope to benefit their productivity and learning.
"Flexible seating is an opportunity for students to select their best learning seat within the classroom,” said Abell, who has been teaching for 13 years. “In my classroom, they select a seat first thing in the morning according to our seating line up (number order). That way, each student gets an opportunity to be the first to pick first at least once a week.”
Rachel Ehlers, first grade teacher at Tescott Elementary said "We felt the students would work better if they were allowed to work not only at their own pace, but also in their own comfortable positions."
The school principle Steven Kimmi explained that the move to flexible seating isn’t just designed to make school more fun but to ensure they provide the best possible learning space tailored to each individual student.
“Flexible seating was designed to give students choice, physical health, comfort, collaboration, and commitment to learn,” she said. “Flexible seating allows students to choose their best learning space for the day and allow them comfort to collaborate with others if needed to have the best learning experience in our school.”
Feedback from parents and teachers have been incredibly positive, one parent commenting that the space felt like home and Abell points out the students are demonstrating greater focus and pride as they are being given the extra autonomy to decide their own seating for the day.
Eiger Student Standing desks can be integrated into flexible seating designs in schools. Eiger and iwantastandingdesk.com currently work with numerous UK schools to ensure their individual spaces are made to suit the individual needs of the students. You can request a standing desk trail for your school here.
After a one year trial following persuasion from parents, one California School has made a dramatic change to their classrooms by removing all traditional desks and replacing them with standing desks and resting stools.
The teachers at Vallecito Elementary in the San Francisco Bay area have reported that standing students demonstrate “increased concentration, less fidgeting, and less distracting behaviour”
Parents of pupils at the school Kelly and Juliet Starret who originally petitioned for the new initiative have since launched a non-profit organisation called “StandUpKids”
StandUpKids actively promotes the use of crowdfunding for schools to overcome the financial investment of purchasing standing desks. They provide grants to US schools and aim to have children in every school in America standing within ten years.
NHS guidelines in the UK state that Children under 5 should not be inactive for long periods, except when they're asleep. With the NHS now highlighting the health benefits and reduced BMI in standing kids and the UK’s health secretary actively promoting standing desks it may not be long until a forward thinking UK school makes the step to go entirely standing.