Upgrade and Refresh your Space: Choosing the Right Chairs
If the environment is so critical to early learning, your chairs (tables we will deal with in a future post) might be one of your most significant teaching tools, promoting positive behaviours, physical and cognitive development.
But little bodies can generate a lot of punishment. Plus, enhanced hygiene practices means added wear and tear on finishes. The unglamorous workhorses of any childcare centre or classroom, it is easy to take chairs for granted.
But the more comfortable students are, the greater their ability to concentrate, explore, play and work independently. If children have furniture shaped to support their bodies’ best posture, they can better stay focused to delve deeper into work or play.
First in a series of posts on Refreshing and Upgrading your classroom, changing-up seating can be a huge and immediate upgrade for your learning environment.
Selecting Chair heights
"Children should never sit for prolonged periods in the wrong size chair with their feet dangling. A chair should comfortably fit the child… to sit in a natural, relaxed, supported way while keeping his/her feet on the floor or a stable surface to improve postural stability."
– Prof. Alan Hedge, (Ph.D., CPE), Director Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory Cornell University
Determine the best chair height by seating a child with knees at 90° and feet flat on the floor. The distance from the floor to the seating surface is the optimal chair height.
You’ll notice an overlap in seat heights between the Community Playthings chairs we’re looking at here.
Chair types are not necessarily prescriptive to age. You may want to have several types – with arm rests, without; with trays for feeding; lighter for transporting etc. – that will work better depending on the task or the individual child.
Seat height can be so important and of course children grow rapidly, and body sizes and shapes can very wildly at each age. Consider a mix of chair types and heights for maximum flexibility for your learning community.
Stackable for storage.
Space at a premium? Are learning areas shared between multiple ages? Stacking models save space if they are easy to get to: look for carts to simplify storage routines.
Quality chairs are an investment. These wooden chairs with a timeless practical design are all lifetime warrantied. We have seen multiple generations of children go through classrooms using the same chairs by Community Playthings.
Sizes: 5”, 6.5”
Starting at 12.7 cm (5”) this is durable seating that toddlers can adopt as their own. The simple design is carefully thought out. Lightweight yet extremely stable with right-sized cut-outs for hand-holds that early sitters find comforting to grip. The Me-Do-It design encourages not only stable sitting but also lifting and carrying for testing and working large muscles.
For centres that share spaces from toddler to infant (depending, of course on the regulations in your area) these chairs support transition to growing independence with two sizes. The 12.7 cm or 5” seat height Me-Do-It is suggested for 6-18 months while the 16.5 cm or 6.5” seat height is suggested for 12-27 months.
Sizes 6”, 8”, 10,” 12”
The added support of armrests encourages good seating posture in beginning sitters. The 15cm (6") version allows even the smallest toddlers to have their feet on the floor.
With an optional seat belt the large 30cm (12") height chair gives additional support to older and/or special needs children. Rubber tips on the legs reduce noise and floor marring.
Sizes 6”, 8”, 10,’
Mealtimes should be times of quality interaction. The Mealtime chair’s removable, contoured seat insert includes a post to prevent the child from sliding out. Plus the optional tray, makes this a versatile support for transitioning from high chairs: remove the tray and pull up to a table at mealtime. The seat insert is also removeable, so even the biggest messes are a quick to clean-up.
Plus, all pieces stack when not in use. The optional cart makes it easy to stow the chairs away for mealtime. The seat belt -- sold separately -- supports younger children or older children with special needs.
The patented, lightweight, stackable Woodcrest Chair is made of one-piece multi-ply laminated maple for sustainable durability.
The rounded "waterfall" chair front adds comfort and encourages circulation. The wide seat and ergonomic design support good posture. But this wide stance also makes the chair stable without having the legs protrude, reducing risk of tipping or tripping
Rubber feet on the legs reduce noise and won't mark the floor when children push or scoot the chair.
NOTE: While there are chairs that look similar that may be priced a little lower, the Woodcrest chairs are built and warrantied for a lifetime of use. The build quality is unmatched and any small extra cost will be offset by long life.
Adults want to be able to interact with young children at their level. But simply sitting on child-size seating, or bending over from an adult-height chair, day after day, can trigger problems for already stressed backs.
The Teacher’s Low Chair is especially designed for an adult but with the same look and feel of the Woodcrest chairs. Sturdy, the Teacher’s Low chair delivers enough seat depth, width, and back support for the average adult but is at just the right height to work at student sized tables and desks. Lightweight yet strong with a convenient handhold for quick repositioning around the room.
Safety doesn’t end with rounded edges and age-appropriate sizes.
All Community Playthings furniture, including the chairs above, are made from low emitting materials -- safe for your children and staff.
With current enhanced hygiene practices, choosing finishes for durability and environmental safety is more important than ever. CP’s wood furnishings are finished with a natural child safe clear finish, BPA and PVC free.
All these chairs are made in North America from locally, sustainably harvested maple hardwood. But ultimately the greatest benefit to the environment of these chairs is their long life. Their build quality avoides the waste of early disposal and replacement.
- Bogdan Pospielovsky