Whether young children in school are learning a new skill, collaborating in groups or taking a test, teachers are finding ways to ensure they are sitting comfortably.
Amanda McLeod, a kindergarten teacher at Godley Elementary School, is raising money to fill her classroom with flexible seating furniture for the upcoming school year.
“I have seen flexible seating used in other classrooms, as well as read about it in several elementary education blogs I follow discussing the many research-based benefits and success stories about the many benefits,” McLeod said. “Our district and campus prides itself on building relationships and establishing a strong community environment first and foremost. Then the true teaching, learning and growth can happen.
“Classroom design is imperative as it impacts the student engagement and sense of community ultimately setting a tone for the year from day one. Making sure my students are comfortable both physically and from a social-emotional standpoint is an essential component in motivating them from the beginning to reach their full potential each school year.”
Some of the pieces of furniture she plans to purchase for her classroom include flex space comfy floor seats, a balance ball and space wobble cushions from Lakeshore Learning, a teacher supply store known for their quality educational items, she said.
There are many benefits to flexible seating, she said, including power of choice, physical health, community, comfort and collaboration.
“Children thrive on feeling empowered when they are able to have some control and choice of their learning environment needs,” she said. “Flexible seating choices are a privilege that comes with expectations, accountability and responsibility.
“They also learn how choices affect others in their environment just like any choice we make in our daily lives. Ultimately deeper, more meaningful learning happens when a degree of choice and control are given.”
In regards to physical health, she said children naturally need to move, and flexible seating allows them to wobble, bounce, rock, lean and stand to increase their oxygen, blood flow and core strength, which helps them to focus better.
“In community, flexible seating encourages sharing and taking turns with different seating options and locations in the room,” she said. “It also promotes adaptability and understanding that sometimes our preferences change over time or things happen, and we have to learn to cope and move forward just like in the real world.
“Comfort is essential in student engagement and overall academic performance. Being uncomfortable is just as much of a distraction as any other typical distraction such as a loud noise.
“Students are encouraged to find their ‘best fit,’ including where they are in the room and who they are near in order to be productive. Research also shows students who feel more comfortable tend to actively participate much more.”
Collaboration is more efficient, she said.
“Students can easily and quickly move about the classroom to pair up with a buddy or form small groups and then reposition back to whole group for discussion,” she said. “This happens consistently throughout the day.”
To help her effort, Sonic Drive-In donated $272 to McLeod as part of its Limeades for Learning initiative in partnership with donorchoose.org.
In total, Sonic donated $1.2 million matching donations made to teacher projects in May, according to its press release.
“Sonic fans who love teachers responded incredibly during Teacher Appreciation Month, and we were delighted to support 3,937 teachers and their students across the country,” Sonic Public Relations Vice President Christi Woodworth said. “Each year, teachers spend hundreds of their own dollars to support their students, and with Limeades for Learning, SONIC and our fans made that burden a bit lighter. We celebrate and thank teachers for the incredible work they do to bring learning to life in creative and fun ways for their students.”
McLeod thanked Sonic and her husband, Michael, for supporting her project, along with other donations made from parents of students, friends and family.
“I feel honored to work and live in an amazing district with supportive administrative leaders including [Godley ISD] Superintendent Rich Dear and our elementary campus principal, Keri Grimsley, who value the importance of relationships and community with our students as a vital key to success.”
For information about her project, visit donorschoose.org.