Flexible seating seems to be yet another craze or fad in education. However, fads tend to come and go because they lack staying power and/or effectiveness. Thus, we look at five possible longitudinal and in some cases measurable benefits of flexible seating.
- Student Choice – In a flexible seating environment, students can be granted the choice to sit where they choose or as best fits their learning style. From traditional desks to bean bags on the floor, giving students the choice to sit where they desire lends towards eagerness to be in the classroom, attentiveness during instruction, and greater accessibility to content.
- Fitness – Providing flexible seating allows students to move throughout the day while in the classroom, from rocking or bouncing to leaning or standing, all of which increases oxygen flow to the brain, blood flow and core strength. In turn, this burns more calories and increases metabolism. It also helps keep students more alert and focused. A study by Matthew T. Mahar, et al, found that simple in-class activities can boost academic performance. Studies suggest that children who participate in short bouts of physical activity within the classroom have more on-task behavior, too.
- Comfortability – It goes without saying, when you are uncomfortable it s difficult to focus and attend to tasks. The opposite is true as well, so ensuring students are comfortable in their surroundings, including seating, can maximize their attentiveness and performance. When students are uncomfortable in their seat, flexible seating provides them the opportunity to move to a seat more in tune to their physical needs.
- Collaboration – Flexible seating encourages students to take turns in different locations and with different seating options. Additionally, using flexible seating maximizes small group work and collaboration, allowing students to come together in an arrangement that best suits the group.
- Academic Performance – A 2012 study from the University of Minnesota found that students participated 48 percent more in discussions in a classroom with collaborative group seating versus traditional lecture-style seating, and also improved their performance on standardized tests. Student engagement in increased when they have greater control over their environment.