Getting squirming, distractible children to sit still and pay attention is rarely easy, and there’s a good reason for that. Kids’ developing brains have a lot to process, and on top of that, they’re all completely different. Stimuli like light, sound, touch, and the movement of their own bodies affect the way they’re thinking and feeling, and they’re still learning how to make sense all of that input. While many a strict teacher has tried to suppress these natural instincts in the past, it turns out that giving kids more freedom to fidget and withdraw could actually help them concentrate, especially when disabilities like autism factor into the equation.
A new furniture collection by Tink Things uses a theory called Dunn’s Model of Sensory Processing to accommodate the diverse needs of children as they interact with their everyday environments. Physical movement and good sensory integration not only help kids focus, but they’re also crucial for learning, development, and overall well-being, explain designers Dorja and Ivan Benussi. Some kids are sensation-seeking, meaning they’re always in motion, while others might be more sensitive, requiring a little more of a buffer between themselves and their surroundings.
The Ika Swing Chair and the Mia Hoodie Chair are two different responses to two different ways of processing stimuli. The Ika features a minimalist wooden frame and a suspended, non-fixed seat, allowing kids to rock and bounce while seated so they can expend a little energy and calm themselves down.
The fabric shell of the Mia works like a cocoon that can be lifted or lowered on demand depending on how the child is feeling. The designers note that this chair offers mild deep-pressure soothing to boost serotonin levels and alleviate stress. When both models are available, kids can switch between them at will as their moods and energy levels shift throughout the day, and sitting never has to be boring again.
“Children differ in their ability to process and respond to sensory stimuli within an environment while engaging in activities,” add the designers. “One child may have difficulty sitting still during group time, while another may move little during free play outside. They react in different ways because each child integrates the information obtained through their senses from the environment differently.”
“Sensory intelligence is encouraged by sensory-rich environments that are designed based on understanding children’s neurological thresholds & their behavioral responses. Those kind of spaces are dynamic and fun, but [they] also work as a food for the brain. They help with emotional regulation and aid concentration and memory skills, as real learning always involves patterns of physical activity.”
Not only do these two chairs approach the sensory needs of kids in two completely different ways (with multiple ways to use each one), but they’re also beautifully designed. Tink Things used sustainable materials like solid FSC-certified ash wood, 3D mesh fabric, and aluminum to make them, and their production process is as eco-friendly as can be, yielding minimal waste. The Ika and Mia chairs offer long-lasting value, and they’ve already been tested by families all over Europe. Both are currently available for pre-order, with shipping set to commence in January 2019.