Maybe you’ve heard us talk about soft seating in classrooms and wondered what on earth we were saying? If you keep reading, you’ll find out why we like to talk about it…
To start, let me explain a few things. As technology increases the speed at which the world is changing, educators are starting to understand that the old style of teaching isn’t working. Students no longer need to memorize facts, because Siri, Alexa, and Google can answer those questions anywhere, anytime. Now more than ever the more important skills for children to learn are 21st-century learning skills. 21st-century skills are things like critical thinking, communication skills, creativity, innovative skills, media literacy, and more…
But these skills are simply being hindered when a child is sitting in a hard chair, at a hard desk, memorizing hard facts (and soft facts, really any facts – bet you didn’t know that sea lions are the only animals that can clap. Yeah, I know, you’ll remember that).
Anyway, that is why there has also been a switch to flexible seating in classrooms.
Flexible seating not only includes soft-seating, but wobble stools, standing-height desks, and so much more. And although soft seating is a small part of this, it is a very important part.
To explain, take a look at this diagram:
This is the ideal flexible seating classroom. Generally, it is laid out in zones, a community, discovery, and quiet zone.
The community zone has ottomans and other seating that is easy to move around because generally, this is where class discussions, lectures, and collaboration happens. Very often you can find a selection of lounge furniture placed in a circle format to one side, where groups can sit comfy and discuss the topics at hand!
The second zone is more the middle ground. It is called the discovery zone. This is where they may be some collaboration, but it is more hands-on, with students using tables and/or desks to complete actual tasks, and physically work through experiments, etc…
The final zone is Flexxform’s, and introverts, favorite. The quiet zone. Most commonly, this is used as the independent study and reading zone. It is the place where students go to be alone and focused. Here is where we find most of the lounge furniture. Armchairs and couches are used for making students comfortable as they read through their most recent novel study book, study, or complete independent tasks.
Completely going off track here, (I will rein it back in later), but there is a lot of pressure in everyday life, whether it be at home or just what we hear in the news. Everything combined is causing adults stress, and that transfers to children. In fact, according to CDC, approximately 20 million children were diagnosed with a mental disorder within the years of 2016 to 2019. And these children all come to school, where the regular pressures of growing up, social media, and grades surround them.
Sitting in a hard plastic chair at a hard desk isn’t making that pressure any less. So having a few pieces of soft seating in a classroom can provide a place for students, who may be struggling with this, to relax.
In fact, TJ Desalvo, a writer for the Anxiety-Shmanxiety Blog on healthyplace.com, confirms that if he (being diagnosed with 2 types of anxiety and on the autism spectrum) puts himself in a comfortable environment, he feels his anxiety ease. Providing soft seating can be a comfortable environment for students. And if their anxiety is eased, their focus can drastically increase, allowing them to focus on their schoolwork.
I’ll just dip into this quickly, but you’ve probably heard about why students oftentimes tip back in their chairs. It is because when they are sitting hunched over a desk they aren’t getting enough oxygen which is decreasing the blood flow throughout their body, which then leads to their brains saying “You need to move”, making the student tip back onto the back legs of the chair because they aren’t allowed to get up and walk. Soft-seating can assist in this.
Because when a child sits in one of Flexxform’s seats, they are given the freedom to sit whichever way they want, so moving about is easy, without dangerously tipping the chair back! Also in lounge furniture, typically the back is tilted back slightly, which means your body naturally tilts back, in turn allowing more oxygen to enter your body! We will go into this further in a future blog, so stay tuned for that! 😉
And there you have it! Simply, having a selection of lounge furniture can assist in giving students options in a flexible seating classroom, become the favorite reading corner, provide a safe haven for students prone to anxiety, and decreases the danger factor of having a chair tipped back!