Bucks County Herald

Flexible seating may be wave of the future in CB

DANA M. ECKMAN

What if students did not have to sit at traditional desks and chairs all day but were given different seating options like a beanbag chair, a couch, standing desk, balance ball or the choice to lie on the floor to do their work?

In the Central Bucks School District, these flexible classrooms do not deter student learning. Allowing students to choose what is most comfortable for them helps sustain their concentration and attention. Just as adults in the corporate world have spaces designed for comfort and efficiency, students enjoy these benefits too.

Suzanne Dailey, staff developer, and Angela Hendershot, K-12 health and physical education coordinator, presented the school board with research-based data on Feb. 27 describing why flexible seating can enhance learning, and how comfort and choice can boost motivation and engagement for students.

Flexible seating in elementary schools is becoming reality using standing desks, wobble stools, reading sofas, comfy chairs, as well as traditional desks, tables and chairs. These various seating choices allow students to be empowered by deciding where they want to work in order to be focused, comfortable and efficient. Eight elementary teachers are piloting flexible seating and collaborating regularly throughout the year to reflect upon classroom implementations and its impact on teaching and learning.

“Optional seating, alternative seating, flexible seating. No matter what it’s called, many K-12 educators are rushing to provide nontraditional student seating options,” Dailey said.

In looking at slides, Dailey said, “If you look at the boy on the right then you look at the boy on the left, they are sitting in the same type of chair using the same lap desk, doing the same assignment in math but they look so different. They are happy, comfortable and focused.”

“But how students position themselves to learn is as different as their individual learning styles,” Hendershot added.

Still, for some students, traditional student desks and student chairs still work best physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally.

Student feedback was strongly positive on flexible seating. Through surveys, the district has already received initial positive feedback from parents, teachers and students. They will continue to document student attitude and achievement in the coming months as they envision next steps of flexible seating in elementary classrooms.

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