Think about some of your more challenging students—perhaps those who have a difficult time building stamina, staying focused, or staying in one spot. Some children's behaviors collide with others in the room, and other students may seem on edge at school and in the classroom. There are a multitude of reasons why students struggle with these and other behaviors. There are also many ways in which we can support these and all students, one of the first of which is the classroom environment we create.
When we set up our classrooms, one of the things we take into consideration is the needs of students who may struggle with behavior, focus, stamina, or comfort. Consider for a moment where you love to read. Is it at a desk in a hard chair that may or may not be ill fitting? It's likely this isn't what popped into your head when you thought about the place you choose to sit. We are not so different from our students. It is common for educators to think students who struggle need tighter control or parameters in the classroom. However, the opposite is usually true.
Some of our more challenging students are those whose bodies cry out for softer spaces to sit, cozier locations to read, and alternative surroundings to those typically found between classroom walls. We find, year after year, student after student that when we create an environment that is comfortable and has choices of seating and working options, along with locations in the room that may look different from a traditional classroom, some of our more at-risk students rise to levels that surprise even them.
If you are looking for ways to create spaces in your room that invite students to relax, engage, be comfortable, and build stamina, here is a great place to begin. A few props and paint transform this corner of the room into just that space.