Have you heard of flexible seating? This is a new trend from the United States, which is gaining popularity in Quebec elementary schools. It may be a little destabilizing at first, for both teachers and children (and even some parents!), but flexible seating presents many advantages.
What is flexible seating?
In a flexible classroom, the teacher provides very little formal instruction. This means that instead of sitting at their desks, in rows, students work mostly in stations. They might be spotted:
- reading, lying on a rug or in a bunk bed;
- working in a team standing up to solve a math problem;
- playing with slices of a pie or pizza (plastic, obviously!) to understand fractions;
- learning their vocabulary words by forming letters out of Play-Doh;
- doing exercises by bouncing gently on an exercise ball or pedaling on a stationary bike.
Technology also plays a significant role in this type of layout. The room has laptops, tablets and an interactive whiteboard (IWB).
But don’t be fooled&mdashkids don’t just have free rein to do whatever they want. Teachers adapt their pedagogy and set rules at the beginning of the school year to ensure the year runs smoothly for all students. And to keep ten different children from arguing over a single couch or four bean-bag chairs, a reservation board is essential.
And of course, students can’t spend all of their time at the same station, just doing their favorite activities. They need to cover all of the topics in the curriculum.
The advantages of flexible seating
There are a number of benefits to flexible seating. Those who have tried it say that children feel more free, as if the class belongs to them.
Moreover, according to many teachers who have adopted this approach, it seems that flexible design promotes autonomy, productivity, as well as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration. And the cherry on top: they spend much less time on discipline, and much more on teaching and supervising.When you think about it, it makes sense: when children can choose where they feel most comfortable, they’re more open to learning, more committed to success, and perform better overall. Children always learn better when they’re having fun!