Sunday, June 30, 2013

Why make the switch to alternative seating?

Desks and chairs were the bane of my existence last year.  All year long kids were tipping, wiggling, falling out of- come on, you know- their chairs.  On top of it, since I teach first grade it was the first time they had a desk... so they were secretly cutting, gluing, playing with toys, anything but paying attention- in the secrecy of their own desk.  Teaching kindergarten last year, it was my first time with desks as well, and let me tell you, I was wondering what all the hype was about.  Thats why when I got moved into my new itty bitty room I said "There's  no way I'm putting 20 desks in here!"  Seriously.  That would be my whole room!  And you could only tetris them  in one specific way to make them all fit!  No thank you!  I went with tables.

Not only that, I went with two tables.  Like- as in, seating for 8.  Now add my horseshoe table for small groups and you have seating for 13.  I'll have 20 kids.  But it's okay because I'll be doing alternative seating.  When I went to the Daily 5 conference last month and one of the sisters, Joan, said that she only had seating for half of her students.  She uses alternative seating... in fact, she said that all of the classrooms in her school use alternative seating.  If it works for them, it will surely work for me.

Think about it.   If someone told you that you have to exhaust your stamina reading books and practicing writing, where would you choose to tackle this task?  I would choose my bed.  Seriously. I love reading or writing while propped up in my cozy bed... I'm there right now!  I'm guessing not that many people chose to work in rigid plastic chairs at a table or desk, right next to others who were more than likely audibly mouthing their own stories to themselves.  Why should we expect kids to do it??

By letting a child sit/stand/crouch in a spot that is best for him, it will completely change his ability to work independently in reading and writing.  Meaning, it will make him a better reader and writer!  Who doesn't want that!!

A Pediatric Physical Therapy study conducted in 2006 indicated that when a group of children diagnosed with ADHD were given alternative seating instead of school chairs they paid better attention and scored higher on standardized tests.  When kids with an extra amount of energy are given the freedom to sit the way they choose, and switch positions freely, they are more likely to be engaged than if they were forced to sit a certain way for a long period of time.  Take it from me, a person who has struggled with ADD since grade school myself, this is HUGE.

Apart from the academic benefits, there are also behavior benefits.  Children that are constantly out of their seat can feel at ease in their new comfy spot, and will more likely remain there for longer.  Kids that prove to always be a distraction will be more engaged, so they won't take learning away from others.  Kids that get tired and ornery half way through the day are more likely to stay alert.

Other benefits include:

x      It creates a community in the classroom.

x      It forces kids to be more organized.

x      It fosters independence.

x      It helps develop metacognitive skills.

x      It's so stinkin' fun!

Stop by later, and I'll show you some pictures of what I'll be using for my alternative seating!

Here is a few articles on the benefits of alternative seating:

What? Not every student has a Desk? --The Sisters talk about their own experience with alternative seating.

Students stand, balance and bounce to learn -- An news report about alternative seating in the classroom.  A lot about standing at tables.

Standing Room Only in Classroom of the Future -- This study conducted by the Mayo Clinic was set up to study the effects of "no seats" on fighting obesity in a classroom.  Scroll to page 4 for the article.

Teachers, parents favor exercise balls in classrooms (with video) -- A news article that shares the benefits of a "chairless classroom".

Alternative Seating Brain Research -- Benefits of using stability balls instead of chairs.

Health Benefits of Alternative Seating -- Health benefits for adults using alternative seating in the office.

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