Preferential Seating

** Keeping distractions behind you makes it easier to focus forward **

Getting It Right — Preferential seating is very important! It can mean different things in different situations and can be the difference between academic success or academic failure. The most important consideration for a struggling student is to make sure the student is positioned where the least amount of auditory and visual distractions exist between the student and the teacher/ speaker. (See visual distractions below).

Making It Happen — The first step is to recognize that preferential seating doesn’t necessarily look the same for every student and may vary from student to student. The concept of “one size fits all” simply does not apply when considering individual needs of the struggling students with auditory processing problems. Also, different circumstances in the classroom may require different preferential seating adjustments for that student.

• Teachers today are very creative. Their new, creative desk arrangements many times cause a struggling student to be looking at his/her fellow students. Even though the teacher provides a quiet learning environment, the fact that the struggling student is constantly facing his/her fellow students while being expected to do seat work can be overwhelming for that student because of the potential visual distractions he/she faces.

• For the teacher who tends to “stroll” around the classroom while teaching, preferential seating for a student is especially challenging. That teacher is going to need to remember the fundamentals of accommodating the student who needs preferential seating and adjust accordingly.

Visual Distractions — Students with auditory processing problems usually make up for their auditory deficits by developing strong visual skills. In many situations they may use their visual perceptual skills to constantly let them know what is happening around them, sometimes even to the extent of appearing ADHD.

Preferential Seating Considerations — Remember that the student with auditory processing problems will be a more successful student when seated where he/she:

  1. has the most opportunity throughout the day to be able to make visual contact at any time with the teacher or whoever is the speaker.
  2. has the best opportunity to experience success with easy visual access to the presentation board, chalkboard, etc.
  3. faces away from other distractions such as the door, windows, activity areas, etc.
  4. is in a more calm part of the classroom facing away from the more “wiggly” students.

Read a Case Study on Preferential Seating