If you visit a Hampton Lutheran classroom while the students are working in groups or doing schoolwork quietly, chances are you’ll see students sitting on the floor, under desks, at a group table, or on beanbag chairs.
That’s because we believe that flexible seating in the classroom is good for kids. We don’t restrict students to always working at their desks or require them to sit in chairs all the time.
During quiet work time or group projects, letting kids work where they feel comfortable promotes student ownership in the classroom, meaning they feel more connected and engaged with the activity because they have a choice in where they sit. Flexible seating facilitates kids learning from their peers, especially in our combined classrooms with small class sizes. It’s good for students’ health and fosters independence and self-awareness.
What Flexible Seating Looks Like at HLS
Each teacher decides how much freedom her students to work away from their desks, but all the classrooms have distinct areas for classroom instruction and various workspaces where kids can work on their classwork, read, or collaborate in group projects.
Some classrooms have higher desks so students can work standing up. We also have carpeted areas and mats so kids can work on the floor in a comfortable position, as well as unconventional chairs that give kids more seating options.
Flexible Seating Gets Kids Moving!
One of the benefits of flexible seating is that kids aren’t sitting at the same desk all day. With flexible seating, during designated times, they’re encouraged to get up and find a spot in the classroom to work. This means kids are up and moving more than they might be in a traditional classroom—and that’s a good thing.
Education consultant Carla Hannaford wrote in her book Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head that studies show kids are more engaged and can better learn new information when they move in a classroom. Movement increases heart rate and circulation and counteracts the effects of sitting too long.
Plus, kids are kids! Lots of kids will get fidgety after sitting too long in the same spot, so giving them times when they can sit where and how they want helps them stay more focused on their work and on the teacher’s lessons over the course of the day.
Flexible Seating Promotes Self-Awareness and Self-Management
In today’s workplace, more and more companies are offering remote work options and flexible hours. Some employees struggle with so much freedom because they don’t know how to manage themselves and determine when and where they work best.
By encouraging children to explore different seating arrangements and workspaces in the classroom, we’re helping kids learn how to manage themselves and become self-aware. They learn what workspaces and learning environments work for them: Some kids may realize sitting on the floor just feels better. Some kids figure out they work best sitting next to classmates, while others might realize they want to be more secluded so they can concentrate.
This self-management and self-awareness will help kids as they learn how to manage their time and their workspace, whether in junior high when they have more homework and more extracurricular commitments or years down the road during internships and full-time jobs.
Learning how to find a comfortable space to work and staying focused helps prepare kids for the real world. And it all begins in the classroom with giving kids the freedom and responsibility of flexible seating.