Kids crave movement and it has been shown that physical activity can actually boost learning and the retention of information. Many teachers have regular Brain Breaks throughout the day, where students are given the chance to move their bodies and use some of their stored energy. Some teachers even incorporate movement into the lessons – for example counting and jumping, or using their bodies to measure. The newest development in integrating movement into education is stocking classrooms with a variety of seating options.
Teachers have noticed that students have different seating preferences when it comes to completing class work and staying on task. It is becoming more common for teachers to offer seating choices for their students, as a way to help them maintain focus and limit interruptions. The result is a more engaged and productive class.
Research from the “Get it, Got it, Go Assessment” (Ohio Department of Education) reported a significant decline in the number of times instruction was interrupted due to off-task behavior when alternative seating options were used. Flexible seating has been linked to using up excess energy, increasing motivation and engagement, improving oxygen flow to the brain, as well as improved core strength.
One local teacher who has embraced flexible seating in her classroom is Erin Young, a third grade teacher, from Georgia Elementary and Middle School. She says, “I have seen a huge difference overall in student engagement and focus. It has made a significant difference in the academic lives of those students with ADHD, ADD, anxiety, among other learning challenges. Students use these flexible seating options as a “fidget”, which in turn helps them stay on task for longer periods of time. Students no longer dread going to their seats to work on or listen to a lesson.”
Mrs. Young purchased all of her seating through a grant called donorschoose.org. They always have grants available for teachers. She also asked friends, parents and family to donate to match the grant and help cover expenses.
Her favorite seating option is the Hokki Stool, followed by the Safco ball seats. She also has desk bikes, Runtz ball seats, yoga ball chairs, stable cube seats, yoga mats, balance cushions, under table stationary elliptical pedal machines ,and rubber bands that go on the front of the chairs, called Bouncy Bands. She hopes to add Turnstone stools and Ergo seats for next year.
She adds, “Students in my classroom do not have assigned seats. They choose where they sit on a daily basis. This is the overall point of flexible seating. It has never once been an issue. They choose where they learn best.” Other teachers at Georgia Elementary are following Mrs. Young’s model and starting to integrate alternative seating into their classroom.