Teaching methods and technology aren’t the only concepts that have evolved through the past decade—schools are beginning to emphasize the necessity of student comfort in the classroom. In the past, schools thought the only way children could learn was in a stiff, uncomfortable classroom environment. By keeping students in hard seats with harsh lighting, teachers and administrators created a strict standard that prioritized student discomfort.
Today, the importance of comfort for student success is clear as schools create spaces where students want to learn rather than spaces where they’re forced to learn. With a more comfortable environment, students have the opportunity to grow and learn without the challenges of an uncomfortable environment.
Comfort Improves Mood
Getting anything done when one is in a bad mood is difficult, even for children in a classroom. When schools use furniture that makes students feel uncomfortable, such as painful seating and desks that are the wrong size, it can irritate them and cause bad moods, impeding their focus. Students may also feel trapped when they’re in the classroom; this feeling can distract anyone from doing their work.
With classrooms that help them relax and feel comfortable, students can better focus on the tasks at hand rather than feel anxious and distracted by the school’s stressful furniture. Students will also feel as though their comfort matters to their educators, which can make them feel more at ease and ready to give their all.
Active Learning and Comfort
Comfortable furniture goes hand in hand with the concept of active learning. Whether the classroom has an area with beanbag chairs or module seats, the comfortable seating helps students collaborate with their peers and teachers in a beneficial environment. When your classrooms have elements of comfort, students are more likely to relax and open up to those around them, allowing for more creativity and the sharing of critical thinking.
Making your classrooms versatile and flexible will allow teachers to shift the space in a minute or two with no effort at all. The added versatility creates a comfortable space for teachers and students alike.
The Importance of Seating Choices
By adding comfortable seating choices for the classrooms and study areas of your school, you not only provide students with variety but also help students find the type of seating that helps them focus best. Some children with autism have difficulties focusing when the texture or rigidity of a seat bothers them; they may feel better sitting on a comfortable fabric chair or focus better when they can position themselves however they want on beanbag chairs.
Allowing children to choose the type of seating that suits them best can help them stay focused without needing to disrupt the class or wait for accommodations.
Health Benefits of a Comfortable Classroom
Keeping your classrooms comfortable for students is beneficial to their health as well—both physically and mentally. Whether children are young elementary students or seniors in high school, their health is essential to their ability to learn. Health issues in the classroom can become some of the largest distractions for students.
Consider both types of health benefits while you add new, comfortable furniture and décor to each classroom:
Physical Health Benefits
Physical comfort and physical health will always relate to each other, even outside the classroom. It’s no secret that students commonly suffer from migraines due to the harsh fluorescent lights in classrooms. With natural light sources or warmer lighting solutions, students can focus on the class material rather than on the pain behind their eyelids.
Students—especially older students—often suffer from bad posture, too, whether they’re in the classroom or at home. Some seating solutions offer gentle posture-correcting backs that keep students comfortable and that prevent long-lasting back pain.
Mental Health Benefits
Discomfort can lead to heightened anxiety and rushing negative thoughts in students with anxiety or depression. This discomfort could be due to the lighting, the temperature, or the discomfort of the seats. If students don’t feel comfortable in their classrooms, they won’t feel confident responding to the teacher, or they may feel too distracted to work on their assignments. Keeping depressed or anxious students relaxed will give them the energy to fight the invisible illnesses of which they hide the symptoms.
Comfort in Other Areas of the School
It’s not just classrooms that require extra attention to student comfort—your entire school can benefit from some attention to comfort. Put comfortable seats in the school’s cafeteria, study nooks, and auditorium to ensure everyone—including guests—has access to the comfort they need for eating, studying, or listening to presentations. Even in the gymnasium, comfortable stadium seating makes a difference when students are sitting in assemblies or watching their peers at a game.
How To Add Comfort to the School
There are many different methods to make your school more comfortable or to build a school with comfort in mind. It’s important to consider the following variables when you begin creating a relaxing environment for students:
As we mentioned earlier, comfort comes in the form of multiple types of seating materials, the flexibility of the seating, and how relaxing it is to sit in. Equip classrooms, libraries, and study areas with cushiony bench-style seating for collaboration and break times or with module seating for different classroom setups and study methods.
The less fluorescent lighting your classrooms need, the better. Avoid creating classrooms that give students headaches or migraines from the light by giving every room plenty of windows for natural light. Find alternative solutions to fluorescents by decorating with warm lamps or by draping cloth loosely over the light fixtures.
When students are either too warm or too cold, they’ll have difficulty focusing. Too hot, and their focus will jump around; too cold, and they’re more likely to fall asleep in class. Keep your school well ventilated, and respond seriously to temperature complaints.
Some rooms have problems with the acoustics, especially gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums. Make sure students can listen comfortably to their peers and to speakers without some having to sit in audio dead zones. Place sound absorbers on the walls or use acoustic ceiling tiles to prevent the sound waves from bouncing all over the room.
The importance of comfort for student success isn’t something to take lightly when you’re in charge of the school. Your job is to design classrooms and school spaces that encourage learning, and students’ comfort should play the largest role in your blueprints.
Purchase your comfortable school furniture from a vendor that cares about the comfort of your students and faculty, such as Martin Public Seating. We’re partnered with some of the biggest names in school furniture for any project—whether it’s a new construction or a renovation. We are Irwin Seating dealers for auditorium seating as well as consultants with a variety of trusted brands for classroom furnishings, so you’ll be in good hands as you budget out your new designs.