Ask the Expert

What Matters Most When Selecting Furniture For An Active Learning Environment?

Whether outfitting a single classroom or entire campus, selecting the right desks, chairs, tables and storage is essential. Countless studies show that quality furniture improves student learning and student health.

Before investing, prioritize which features best fit your students, curriculum, space and budget. For many schools, here’s what matters most:

Durability. Furniture must hold up to the movement and stress demands of collaborative learning — and kids in general. Look for adequate structural support (especially in legs) and durably made edges.

Functionality/Flexibility. Select furniture that can adapt to multiple subjects and settings. Desks and chairs should be quickly reconfigurable for group learning, and easily adjusted to students’ size.

Mobility. All furnishings, including storage and shelving, should have caster options. Also be sure desks and chairs are light enough for students to safely move.

Movement. Students sit in classroom chairs close to 80 percent of their time. Look for chair designs that allow students to follow their natural movement instincts, while still providing support and comfort.

Budget. Don’t skimp on quality or shop trends. Select high-quality products from a reputable supplier with excellent service and sustainable practices.

This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Michael Risdall is director of marketing at Smith System, a leading educational furniture manufacturer.

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