The choice of classroom furniture can positively or negatively affect both student and teacher performance. The reasons for this are complex, but have to do with comfort, health and space. Overcrowded, cluttered classrooms are simply less conducive to learning. It is possible to find affordable classroom furniture that doesn’t take up too much space and facilitates learning. The key is understanding the needs of both students and teachers.
The wrong furniture can overcrowd a classroom, restricting high-traffic areas, increasing distraction and obstructing focal points like the blackboard. In a New York study that focused on overcrowded classrooms, student performance in math and reading was much lower than in similar, less crowded schools. Both students and teachers agreed that crowded, cluttered learning environments negatively impacted elements such as:
- The way teachers and students were able to interact
- The teacher’s ability to provide one-on-one support for individual students
- Classroom activities
- Instructional techniques
- Ease of access to common areas
- Attention span
- Teacher attendance and stress levels
Many teachers reported that they were unable to cover more than the bare minimum of material necessary to complete the course.
If you’re dealing with a younger class, you may want the ability to switch your classroom furniture around to form different configurations. Rectangles, triangles or kidney-shaped tables are all popular. Circular tables can be effective, assuming they’re large enough to seat a decent number of children without causing distractions. They do limit arrangement possibilities, though.
Elementary students are going to need comfortable classroom furniture that also provides space for their books and supplies. Storage areas under the seats are common, as are areas directly under the table tops. The surface of the desk may lift, or there might be a “basket” below the table to slide books right into. However, storing books under the table top can restrict leg space. If it’s a slide-in storage space, the student may have to get up in order to retrieve books.
Older children have more textbooks and school supplies to lug around, so make sure to consider this when choosing your classroom furniture. Make sure the children have enough space to sit comfortably for several hours, if necessary, and to store several large, thick textbooks along with pencils, pens and other supplies. Wire baskets or storage spaces beneath the chairs are popular, since they’re out of the way and allow for a lot of space.
Another classroom furniture option that can save space is a “half shelf” under the desk. Set to the side, so as to allow room for the legs, the smaller shelf can hold plenty of heavy textbooks. However, if the shelf is open there’s some potential for the books to be accidentally kicked and tumble down, creating a distraction.
Do you use computers in your classrooms? If so, you may want to look at technology workstations, as opposed to simple desks. The difference is that workstations allow room for technology and cords to be organized and kept out of the way. This is important for minimizing distractions and the possibility of someone accidentally tripping over stray wires.
While it may be tempting to go with the first, least expensive classroom furniture you find, remember how many children and teachers your decision will affect during the forthcoming years. With the help of Nova Solutions, you can choose classroom furniture that meets your needs, complements those who will be using it and will prove a great investment for years to come.