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Situation: The sofa

In this article you're introduced to a real life example of how a small change in space alters children's behaviour.
© University of Reading
In this Step you’re introduced to a real case scenario that Helen witnessed in a primary school, and you may have witnessed a similar scene yourself in a classroom. Take a moment to read through Helen’s notes from her observation of the situation:
In a Year 6 (ages 10-11) classroom in a primary school, there was an old four-seater sofa along one wall of the book/group corner. The rest of the group corner had carpet on the floor. Without fail, after the lunch and play break-time, some of the children from this class would (against school rules) run to the classroom from the playground, throw their coat at their peg instead of it placing it, to then launch themselves at the squishy sofa, and to sit triumphantly as the rest of the children came in.
The sofa would quickly get filled up and tensions would start building. Arguments would ensue as children tried to vie for position, which then becomes physical as they try and pull each other off the sofa. If they were unlucky a member of school staff would spot them, and they would be told off and told to sit on the carpet.
This caused the following results:
  • Children crying as they had bumped heads whilst trying to get on the sofa
  • Children upset and angry as they felt they had been wronged and pulled off the sofa
  • Other children sitting on the carpet looking rather bemused at what was going on
  • Other children looking extremely smug and happy as they had achieved the accolade of getting on and staying on the sofa
Before you move on, take a few minutes to consider what you would do to stop children behaving like this? Generate some ideas and post them on the discussion board below.
In this Step you’re introduced to a real case scenario that Helen witnessed in a primary school, and you may have witnessed a similar scene yourself in a classroom. Take a moment to read through Helen’s notes from her observation of the situation:

In a Year 6 (ages 10-11) classroom in a primary school, there was an old four-seater sofa along one wall of the book/group corner. The rest of the group corner had carpet on the floor. Without fail, after the lunch and play break-time, some of the children from this class would (against school rules) run to the classroom from the playground, throw their coat at their peg instead of it placing it, to then launch themselves at the squishy sofa, and to sit triumphantly as the rest of the children came in.
The sofa would quickly get filled up and tensions would start building. Arguments would ensue as children tried to vie for position, which then becomes physical as they try and pull each other off the sofa. If they were unlucky a member of school staff would spot them, and they would be told off and told to sit on the carpet.
This caused the following results:
  • Children crying as they had bumped heads whilst trying to get on the sofa
  • Children upset and angry as they felt they had been wronged and pulled off the sofa
  • Other children sitting on the carpet looking rather bemused at what was going on
  • Other children looking extremely smug and happy as they had achieved the accolade of getting on and staying on the sofa
© University of Reading
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Supporting Successful Learning in Primary School

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