How Flexible Seating Encourages Effective Communication Between Students

Learn how flexible seating encourages effective communication between students
Contributed By

Kristen Cole

Education Writer

How Flexible Seating Encourages Effective Communication Between Students

Posted in Evolving Ed | September 24, 2019

Flexible seating is a classroom arrangement that allows children to choose where they sit in the room, who to sit next to, and what type of seat they would like to sit in. This type of seating works especially well with elementary students, but it can be used all the way up through high school. Flexible seating gives students choices of seat like stools or exercise balls instead of the traditional desk—which are typically available, as well. Students can also choose to stand up or sit down on the ground. Teachers even create more creative options like bunk beds, couches, crates, or canoes where students to work. 

The concept is beneficial for students who need to be able to move a little more in their seats. It also encourages them to find a seat that works for them depending on the task. While helping students who need some movement is a huge benefit of flexible seating, it also encourages communication and critical thinking skills. If you’ve ever wondered if flexible seating is right for you, then keep reading to discover how flexible seating encourages communication between students

Flexible Seating Promotes Community

The biggest benefit of flexible seating is that it builds a community within the classroom. Students are sitting closer together which forces them to share everything. They have to share space and take turns sitting in various locations. They also have to share supplies. While they are sharing, students can chat with one another, when appropriate, and thus improve conversation techniques. Allowing students to have time to chat with one another builds trust amongst them. Frequent interaction supports conversations about life outside of school. 

Students are more apt to share their struggles and concerns which often demonstrates others’ willingness to listen and help. This type of communication fosters empathy, sympathy, and how to talk to peers. It also helps students work through conflict. How do students react when they want the same seat? How should they handle differences in opinion on an assignment? These are important communication skills for the future. 

Flexible seating also builds community by giving teachers opportunities to talk to their students in small groups more frequently since students are grouped by seating style, which helps students develop relationships and communication skills with adults.


Flexible seating also provides ample opportunities for collaboration. No matter what kind of project or assignment students are given, they can choose to be comfortable in their work environment. Flexible seating fosters collaboration by helping students not feel isolated in a row confined to the traditional desk. 

In those desks, students can be intimidated to ask questions of the teacher or even their peers. By having students choose their seats in small flexible seating groups, they are automatically in contact with other students. Shy students and outgoing students can work together to solve a problem or assignment. Small group settings also automatically put students in close proximity with others who can help. If a student is unsure of an answer, he or she can ask their classmates before raising their hand to ask a teacher. It also prevents a student from sitting in their desk and never asking a question to try to figure something out because they are too afraid to ask the teacher. Working on these interpersonal skills and building confidence through communication is another asset to flexible seating.


Choice is something most students desire, and flexible seating gives students choice of seat which is a big factor in the popularity of this approach. Outside of choice of seating arrangements, it helps students discover how they best learn. It allows students to figure out what they like and how they function best and then choose the best option for their own success. 

Imagine if a student could learn that they get the most out of reading by sitting in a bean bag chair as opposed to lying on their belly. Sometimes a student might need to stand and walk around to memorize vocabulary terms or find a cozy quiet corner. This is so empowering for students to figure out situations that make them successful, but on top of that, students then can become advocates for themselves. They can communicate with each other and adults about their learning styles. Students need to learn to communicate their ideas, desires, and needs to others as this is a critical skill for growing up into adulthood.

Flexible seating is a wonderful alternative to the traditional desk and table seating. It boosts learning and can be quite fun for students. Most importantly it is a fantastic tool for helping students figure out how they best learn, but it also improves their communication skills because they are more closely interacting with others on a regular basis. 

How do you encourage communication within your classroom? Share with us on Twitter @Schoology


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