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School Furniture – Empowering the Learning Environment

One of the most crucial tasks school administrators face is establishing a positive atmosphere for learning, and school furniture plays a major role in the way a school looks and feels to the students learning within its walls. Classrooms that are cheerful and bright encourage a far more positive learning experience than ones that are colorless and drab.

On the other hand, school furniture that is too colorful and busy can actually present a distraction to students. Besides aesthetics, comfort, size, space, durability and – don’t forget – budget, are all factors that need to be taken into account when planning furniture for schools. Whether you’re designing a new school or upgrading an older one, the classroom furniture you choose will have a decisive impact on the way students feel about their studies.

Have a Seat!
Studies show that students between the ages of 13-18 years old spend about 78% of their time sitting down. But the truth is that even preschoolers spend a considerable amount of time in their chairs. So a lot of thought needs to go in to choosing the best school chair for your classrooms.

Say What? A Little Terminology…
First, a little school furniture terminology to help make things clear.

School chair seats are manufactured out of one of three materials: wood, soft plastic and hard plastic. Wood means just that, wood. Soft plastic is the colloquial name for polyethylene and polypropylene. Polyethylene has a lot of give; polypropylene, while not actually bendable, does conform somewhat so that students can lean back a bit in their chairs. Hard plastic is far more rigid than its soft counterpart and has no bend whatsoever.

The legs and supports of school chairs are usually made of one of three gauges of steel: 18, 16, and 14 gauge. Contrary to what one might assume, the lower the gauge the stronger the steel, so if you’re looking for the strongest supports around, you would look for chairs with 14 gauge steel.

Down to Size – How High Should School Chairs Really Be?
Ideally, children should be able to plant their feet firmly on the floor even when sitting with their backs against their chairs. This position minimizes fidgeting and provides proper back support. Practically speaking, there will always be some children whose feet dangle when they sit all the way back, or who will have to lean forward if they want their feet to reach the floor. When measuring school chairs, the height is always measured from the floor to the highest point on the seat surface.

Table Talk – A Word About School Tables
As with chairs, here’s a bit of school desk and table terminology you should be familiar with.

The top of school tables or desks is the part that gets the most use, and is the easiest to damage. There are two basic types of table/desk tops for schools. The first – and least expensive – is called a laminate, which is essentially a wood top with a processed surface that protects it from minor damage. Everyday splotches like pencil marks, fingerprints and white-out will come off easily; however, the desk will be vulnerable to dents and pen scratches, as well as damage from sharp objects.

The second kind of tabletop is a hard plastic top. This is just what it sounds like – a desk or table covered with a solid piece of hard plastic. These are extremely difficult to damage, as they are quite tough and can stand up to major student abuse. Although they can be significantly more expensive in the short run, their durability can make them worth their while in the long run.

There is, however, a third type of desk top called Woodstone. Manufactured exclusively by Hertz Furniture, Woodstone is made of a hard plastic surface with a core of wood and/or wood parts. It is just about as durable as regular hard plastic, but since it is less expensive to manufacture, its price is more or less the same as a laminate.

Now that you’ve got all the terminology you need, you’re ready to actually think about the school furniture that will serve your students best. Since different grades have different needs, we’ll break it up by age group.

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