Botetourt County students learn better with flexible seating

Special desks, bouncy balls, lofts are available

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – A big surprise awaited Botetourt County students on their return to the classroom this year.

They can now sit on the floor with special desks, on bouncy balls or even in a loft.

"I was surprised," said Kalin Guilliams, a kindergarten student.

Flex seating is new to Colonial Elementary.

"Every year, I've been here it's always been desks. When I walked in I was like, 'Whoa, what is all this stuff?'" said Lily Spraker, a 5th grade student who said she's learning better. "I think it's super cool because sometimes in the desks you can't get comfortable or you can't focus enough."

"I think it's helping me pay attention more in class, just helping me focus," said Max Vanover, a 5th grade student. "You can find a good spot that kind of fits your needs."

From kindergarten to fifth grade, almost half of the classrooms were transformed over the summer.

"It's wonderful. The kids are excited when they come in. They're learning routines quicker, just to have that choice of where to go and how they learn best is I think the greatest," said Tami Molnar, a kindergarten teacher who has taught several grades.

She was hesitant at first, but seeing it in action has been great.

"I feel like you can do it with any grade. I really do. I feel like kids can learn responsibility, they learn who they can work with and who they can't work with," said Molnar.

They're also learning about taking turns and sharing.

In fifth grade, it's teaching them collaboration and they feel ownership of their classroom.

"It really helps with them becoming more self-reflective about what's comfortable for them. When we're comfortable as adults we tend to succeed better," said Audrey Osborne, a 5th grade teacher.

The teachers didn't have to spend their own money for the makeovers. The PTA had money left over at the end of last school year and gave teachers $300 mini grants for the supplies.

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