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Walking into Jennifer Price’s fifth grade class at Lanier Elementary looks more like walking into a home than a classroom.
There is a big cozy couch along the wall, pillows on the floor, beanbags pushed together and patio chairs pulled up to large tables.
This is a flexible seating classroom.
“Flexible seating allows children to have options of how they can do their best learning,” explained Mrs. Price. “Students feel like they can still move but still have energy to focus on their task.”
Flexible seating is a classroom concept that’s really catching on.
It does away with traditional rows of desks and allows students to choose how and where they want to learn. It also fosters collaboration and a sense of community. A study from the University of Minnesota found that students participated 48% more in discussions when in a flexible seating classroom.
Mrs. Price says it also gives students a sense of ownership over their learning environment. “This is how the world is now,” she said. “We don’t have to just sit in a chair every day for hours. More workplaces provide flexibility. I want my students to be prepared when they leave the comfort of my four walls.”
It’s taken a few weeks, but each student has found where they’re most comfortable.
Arianna has neck pain, so she prefers laying on the couch. She says it’s really helpful and allows her to pay better attention.
Vivian likes the wobble stools. She enjoys moving around a lot and she says the wobble stool allows her to wiggle and still focus.
As for Chris, he tried the wobble stool for awhile but found he prefers a regular desk best. However, he does like the kick-band that is placed around the front two legs of the chair. It allows him to sit in a structured desk but still move his feet a lot. “I like to run a lot so I picked that one,” he explained.
For Mrs. Price, one of the biggest benefits of flexible seating that she's noticed is the sense of family and belonging it creates in her classroom.
“My favorite spot is the kitchen table," she says with a smile. "It feels like we’re at home just sitting around the kitchen table, talking about our day. It’s more personable than just teacher-student. It’s us, as a family.”