Providing flexible seating is very important in an active learning environment. It is equally important to consider student comfort. Both objectives are achievable with the right student desks options such as height-adjustable desks, adjustable chairs and other pieces of school furniture. Although these school furniture options can completely transform the classroom, you cannot ignore the student safety aspect. School furniture in an active learning environment has to be safe and sustainable for students.
Non-Commercial Grade Furniture Safety Concerns
Keep in mind that the furniture you purchase from a retail store is not manufactured for schools. They are not designed for use and abuse that occurs in schools. So, you have to consider many factors while purchasing school tables, chairs and other items for an active learning environment. For example, if you are using foldable camp chairs for flexible seating, you have to consider:
- Weight capacity
- Life of fabric
Non-commercial grade soft seating like couches can be problematic in active learning environments. Don’t buy soft seating from home furniture stores. As the frame is not strong enough, non-commercial grade furniture can be dangerous. So, always invest in commercial grade furniture with a fire rating. This furniture does not burn easily and does not produce noxious smoke.
Student safety and health is the biggest concern of parents. Many students already come with some common health issues such as allergies.
So, think again if you are considering used items for your active learning environment. You do not know much about the history of the furniture.
- Furniture might have issues of insects or rodents.
- You don’t know when the furniture was cleaned last time.
- You don’t know much about the locations where furniture was used.
- Used school furniture may have broken parts.
- Make sure that the school furniture supplier is certified by local or national furniture associations.
Non-commercial grade soft seating, standing desk and other furniture items can cause other concerns including accidents and infestations. Don’t buy chairs if their fabric cannot be disinfected. Soft seatings are extremely difficult to clean in events like spills or the presence of bodily fluids. Make sure that soft seating fits in your active learning environment. Furniture purchased from a commercial vendor lasts much longer. This furniture comes in a range of fabric choices that can resist stains and moisture. The fabric contains a moisture barrier. These pieces of furniture are ultra-durable. These vendors often offer extended warranties. The warranties can even last the lifetime of the furniture. However, make sure that you are aware of what is covered in the warranty. Learn how you can make a claim. Good quality furniture for active learning environments can be useful for 15 to 20 years.
In addition to student health and safety considerations, commercial grade furniture offers flexible options for lounge or couch seating. All these options are designed to meet the unique needs of an educational environment.
Liabilities and Costs
Learn about the furniture policies and guidelines in your district or state. Don’t ignore liability issues. Poor quality furniture with broken parts can cause injuries. You will be held liable for these injuries. Even when new school furniture costs more than used school furniture, don’t bring in problems secondhand or donated furniture can cause. In case your budget does not allow investment in new commercial-grade furniture, thoroughly inspect the used furniture you want to purchase. It must be in excellent condition. Also, keep in mind that used school furniture does not come with warranties. There are a few other ideas for schools struggling with a budget for furniture.
- Students can help in raising funds for furniture for active learning.
- You can also ask your Parent Teacher Association to help in fundraising.
- Applying for grants is another good idea.
You are creating this learning environment for your students. So, their voice also matters. Imagine you as a teacher have to spend the entire day in space that is designed without getting suggestions from you. Listen to the needs and concerns of the students. Their suggestions can also help in making the right purchase. After all, they are going to use the furniture.
Comfortable and adjustable student desks and chairs help in improving the quality of education. It is very important to provide your students with better seating options. The furniture must offer the comfort and support they need to learn. Most importantly, the health and safety of students depend on the quality of school furniture as well.
Used school furniture can also be safe. However, you have to inspect it thoroughly. There should be no sharp edges that can cause cuts. Damaged parts can also cause serious injuries. Moreover, you don’t get any warranties. So, purchase used school furniture only if it is safe to use. Otherwise, invest in new commercial grade school furniture.