It took Goldilocks three tries to find the best chair. Ask the students at Frenchtown and they’ll tell you … Goldilocks gave up way too quickly.
A 2016 EGEF grant is now supporting a “diagnostic seating clinic” at Frenchtown Elementary.
The thinking? Where and how a child sits can make a big difference in how he or she learns.
“Research is demonstrating that traditional, or ‘one size fits all’ seating, is not appropriate for all learners,” explains Frenchtown’s Speech Language Pathologist, Patricia Rakovic. “Our grant was for five different seating options, with three of each of the [choices], to allow exploration.”
Mrs. Rakovic experimented with her new “Goldilocks Chairs”, initially placing them in Frenchtown’s speech and language classroom. Students – and teachers – were able to ‘try them out’, just like Goldilocks. (But with less breakage. And far fewer bears.)
“Once an option appeared to work in the smaller environment, it was then placed in the classroom for further exploration,” says Mrs. Rakovic.
It turns out, the chairs make a difference.
“One dramatic example of how well this worked was with a first grader who was experiencing difficulty with math,” Mrs. Rakovic explains. “He was receiving special support to assist him. The specialist saw his ability, but also noted his difficulty focusing. We tried him out on a different chair and he did so well he no longer needed the specialized math support! Of course, the actual instruction made a difference, but the unique seating options allowed him to be more present to receive this education.”
This grant has offered plenty of other “lessons learned”:
- Having a variety of seating options worked well, as not every choice was appropriate for every child or environment.
- Being able to ‘loan’ out a seating to try in a classroom was great and appeared to maximize the utilization of the seating.
- Allowing the students to initially choose their seating arrangements built problem-solving skills. Often a child would change their seating within a 30-minute session, moving from a dynamic seating option to a more stable one or vice versa.
This grant has worked so well, Mrs. Rakovic is working with Frenchtown’s principal, Mrs. Vaughn, and the school’s Wellness Committee to talk about the potential for expanding the range of choices available to students in the future.