March 8, 2011

Sitting or Standing

I have been wondering if it is better to set up activities on tables with chairs or not.
I seem to remember hearing in one of my lectures that children engage for longer at tables where they can stand at an activity rather than sit at an activity. This would make sense because young children engage with activities in a physical way.

A lack of chairs also means that as many children who want to can engage at an activity.

But the logistics of leaving the chairs away from the tables can be tricky, especially if tables are used for a variety of activities.
Chairs can also help manage the number of children at an activity - if I only have enough material for (say) 5 children to play at once then I put five chairs out and ask other children to wait until a chair is free to play at  that table.

What do you think? Chairs or no chairs? A mix of both?

(photo credit)


Rachel said...

Mix. I'd definitely see what you can do in terms of storing chairs out of the way at the same time. Things like playdough would be easy to do sans-chairs. But activities that you need to limit the numbers of keep the chairs. No chairs for a cooking demo would be good and I think I remember doing that a few times. Collage and free craft that's not super messy ie a group drawing with paper taped to the top of the table would be okay sans chairs. I'd think through everything you do at tables and work out how you could do it without chairs and give it a shot. Let us know how you go!! :) BTW, I never comment on your blog but I love reading it. So from here on out I will try to comment more frequently so you don't feel like you're floating ideas out to the great abyss. *hugs*

Erin said...

Thanks Rachel - I'm thinking similar to you. Trying to see what we can do about moving chairs around - but we have such limited space!
Thanks for commenting, - I know from my feed reader that people are reading, but nice to hear from them too :)

Sherry and Donna said...

Erin this is always a really interesting discussion between teachers. I heard somewhere along the line that we need to get our boys off their bottoms and onto their feet. Boys, in particular, need to 'ground' themselves to develop and connect their neural pathways so they need to be allowed to move around ALL THE TIME. Sitting on their bottom on a chair usually finds them rocking around on two legs of the chair, wiggling around and often falling off. We took to removing chairs from some activities but always made them available for those who wanted to use them. Sometimes we would have 3 or 4 chairs around a table with room for 6 children. They were always free to add or remove more chairs. If you find the children are standing at the table to play, instead of asking them to sit down you might simply ask them if they would like you to remove the chair. Only while eating food did we insist the children sit!
Donna :) :)

Wendy said...

Hi Erin

I agree with Sherry and Donna. Its all about providing choice. Some children will naturally stand even if you provide them with a chair - it seems to be the way they work. However, with food it is important to get them to sit for safety (however, this can be anywhere in the room)

Its like painting at a easel for artists - some like to sit some like to stand .

Its a beautiful way to show you are reflecting about the early years framework and how you provide children with choice throughout the day and how you integrate their preferences into the centre and respect their choices.

jenny said...

What Donna said :) We have a really long wooden table for our craft / box construction area and we will put out 4 chairs. It is interesting to see who chooses to sit / when they choose to sit. When they are busy creating, and moving from the shelves to the table and back again standing seems preferable - when they are really getting into writing and drawing they seem to choose to sit. And then again, some kids choose the floor and move everything there. I think it is all about providing choice.

Anonymous said...

I remember one colleague not liking the children standing to do art. Then one evening together we were at my house doing scrapbooks and I was standing up. She noticed and asked why I was not sitting. I told her I never can sit to do crafts, it blocked my creativity, therefore why do children have to sit all the time too. Hmmmmm something to ponder.

Erin said...

Choice definatly seems to be the key here.

Donna; you're right - it seems to be the boys that naturally want to stand at an activity.

Wendy; hadn't thought of letting them choose as being linked to EYLF, but it is. I love how even small choices we make are a part of our curriculum!

Jenny; often I prefer the floor to chairs myself (more comfortable than some kid sized chairs too!)

Anon; If we feel more comfortable doing something a certain way it's so important to let children have a choice to do things a certain way too