It’s an age-old conundrum faced by educators everywhere: should children be allowed to sit with their friends in the classroom, or do they need splitting up to avoid disruption; does a seating plan need to be enforced, or should they be enabled to choose for themselves who they want to work and share a school desk with?
Children feel more comfortable asking for help from friends - Although every educator hopes that the children they teach will feel confident enough to ask for help, some are undeniably more reserved than others, and in such cases, feel far more comfortable asking for assistance from their friends rather than adult authority figures. Although this can cause some debate over whether it is fair for them to disrupt another child in order to assist their own understanding, it is actually proven that providing an explanation can help to solidify learning in the mind of the respondent, thus benefitting both children.
Children are happier when allowed to sit in classroom chairs with self-selected peers - Nothing fosters learning more greatly than a happy learning environment, one in which children feel comfortable and confident. This is best achieved by allowing them to sit with friends: members of their peer group who they enjoy spending time with, and feel entirely at ease collaborating with, to produce work that fully showcases their abilities.
It teaches children the importance of teamwork - Allowing children to spend their classroom time with self-selected peers is also a wonderful way to teach them team working skills, something that will be of benefit to them not only throughout their time in education but also as an adult working in a professional environment. These skills are far more easily acquired when the child has the comfort of practising them in the company of one they feel at ease with, rather than a peer who they find slightly intimidating or simply don’t gel with.
Every learning environment is different, and must of course be influenced by the individual children who are being taught, yet the positive benefits conferred by the flexible approach of self-selection are undeniable. Will they affect how you choose to set up your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.