Flexible Seating

Why bother?

09/10/2020

The science of Ergonomics is complex. Research continuously proves that sitting uncomfortably and for long periods has adverse effects on the body both physically and mentally; so it can not be ignored within our learning environments.

Sitting uncomfortably puts a strain on the neck and spine, especially when reading, and can contribute towards multiple long-term physical effects on the body and can also affect mental health in both adults and children. Behaviour can be massively affected by the space in which we learn and for children, this is fundamental to their development and their ability to absorb and retain information.

A range of versatile seating areas and getting children physically moving around can help with breaking up these long periods of sitting still.  To make the time that is spent sitting down comfortable and ergonomically correct, the use of adjustable and flexible furniture will enable you to adjust the height of the seat and minimise effects. If this isn’t possible, ergonomically designed chairs will provide crucial postural support.

Well-designed, spaces are relaxing and pleasing to be in, making learning motivating and inspiring from the earliest age. Flexibility and space utilisation is one way to create opportunities for encouraging collaboration and group work.

The use of portable sofas and mobile screens is an excellent way to create comfortable, separated areas where pairs or groups of children can work collaboratively. With the prevention of COVID-19 in mind, it’s worth considering smaller groups or paired work whilst still fighting the pandemic, however, there is no reason why children can’t comfortably collaborate.

Maybe try considering your seating configurations and different types of seating to ensure they are well spaced.

Versatile seating will allow you to offer a range of designated areas, appealing to a variety of learning styles and activities. As libraries are often a centralised and multi-functional learning environment, selecting seating and furniture that is easily portable makes this a simple way to change the layout of your space, encourage autonomy and create breakout zones for group work, peer-to-peer discussion, teacher-led or individual learning. This is particularly important for younger students and primary schools.

Bean bags are an excellent way to provide contemporary soft seating for your students, not only increasing comfort which has positive mental health benefits, encouraging reading and improving concentration levels but also has physical advantages. Coupled with the fact that bean bags are more fun than traditional seating, ergonomically friendly designs are readily available, which better supports the neck and back.

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Selecting the right environment for your space

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