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Top Tips on Using Furniture to Design the Perfect SEL Classroom

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has had a major impact on social and emotional learning (SEL) setbacks. The right school furniture for classrooms and in-between areas can help students decompress, regroup and re-engage in learning. Furniture and interior design play a role in students’ emotional development. That’s why educators are incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) into the physical design of their classrooms. But what does that kind of learning space look like?

  • Lightweight, modular furniture that can be rearranged at a moment’s notice for circle time or individual work

  • Chairs that fit different bodies and offer movement and sensory input

  • Designated spaces where students can go to take a deep breath or a quick ‘brain break’ when they need one

Top Tips on Using Furniture to Design the Perfect SEL Classroom

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning covers a wide range of skills and approaches. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions, achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.

Why is it Important to Pay Attention to Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom?

SEL is crucial because it underpins everything else that educators do. It’s helpful to look at social-emotional learning as the plate instead of one more thing on the plate. Because really, we’re not going to get very far academically with kids if we haven’t met their social and emotional needs. If kids are coming to school and they’re too dysregulated they’re not going to learn academically. Essentially, kids need an environment where they can feel comfortable, supported and safe. They also need methods for controlling emotions and spaces where they can go to cool down, take a break, or recharge.

Social-Emotional Learning Looks Different for Different Students

It is important for schools to provide teachers with the resources to incorporate SEL into their classrooms in ways that work for them and their students. SEL is not one-size-fits-all. Some emotional and sensory tools may be a curiosity for some children and an absolute necessity for others, making them available to all students can help reduce stigma.

This is why it can be especially helpful to have classroom furniture that is easy to move and rearrange. Having access to a variety of options allows educators to set up their classrooms according to their student's needs, their own teaching preferences, and the day’s activities. It is essential for the class to be able to gather in a circle where they check in with each other daily and hold problem-solving discussions.

Let Furniture Help the Healing

We know that furniture and interior design play a significant role in academic learning. The same goes for students’ social-emotional wellbeing, especially as they transition back to a new school year and fresh knowns. Focus on empowering students by capitalising on what they can control. Let them choose to sit, stand or move around. Help them discover what works best for them, independently or collaboratively. Above all, set a safe, positive tone.

Comfy, Soft (yet durable) Furniture

We’ve all embraced familiar creature comforts throughout the pandemic. Soft to the touch and lightweight, our soft flexible seating range offers comfortable soft rockers, ottomans, stools, benches, and divider walls – in both straight and bean-type shapes.

The multi-functional furniture features organic shapes and soft, rounded edging. The pieces work individually or loosely slide together, giving students endless options to create a solo fort or cluster pieces into a collaborative pod. The options are endless.

Divide Spaces. Create Zones

Students who feel overwhelmed often benefit from a designated area where they can go to regulate their emotions or work independently, without leaving the classroom. One strategy is to create a calm-down corner or mindfulness zone.

Use Story Time for Teachable Moments.

Read-alouds are the perfect tool for exploring social-emotional themes with your class. They’re not just for little kids either—there are tons of gorgeous picture books with complex themes and vocabulary that older kids will love too.

Practice Lots of Role-Playing.

Sometimes you have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to truly understand a situation. Taking time to role-play tricky or troubling situations that show up in your classroom helps kids develop empathy and understand other people’s feelings. For example, it’s a great strategy to use when discussing bullying.

Encourage Expression Through Art.

Sometimes students think and feel things that they can’t quite put into words. Art is a great tool to allow them to explore topics from a different perspective. Sketch your thoughts and feelings out as a prewriting activity. Create a painting as an interpretation of a piece of music or poetry.

Call us on 0843 122 9545 or drop us an email to find out how we can help transform your current school environment into an inspirational place that you and the young people will love to spend time in. For any educational furniture queries please get in touch and we would be happy to help.

Call - 0843 122 9545.

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