Wheels on Classroom Furniture–What Are the Pros and Cons?

As an educator, you want to get the most out of your classroom. First and foremost, you want to optimize your classroom so that your students learn and interact in the most effective ways possible. Additionally, you have logistical concerns. You move the furniture around in your classroom, and you think about how much of a headache this process can cause, especially with heavy objects such as cabinets. These thoughts have led you to ask yourself: what are some ways that I can improve the classroom experience of my students and make my life easier too?

If you are reading this article, it is very likely that you think furniture with wheels (also called casters) could be an answer to these questions. However, this possible answer has generated more questions in your head: is furniture with wheels right for me? Are there any concerns I should be aware of before I put it in my classroom? 

At Kaplan, we have been designing and building classroom furniture for decades. Since some of this furniture comes with wheels, we are keenly aware of the pros and cons of having it in your classroom. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of furniture with wheels so that you can know for sure whether or not it is the right fit for you.

Pros of Furniture on Wheels

A Better Learning Experience for Students

As you probably guessed, furniture that is on casters is very easy to move. This means that you have a much greater ability to rearrange your classroom on a regular basis. Frequent rearrangement of your classroom can have a very positive effect on your students. Students are more responsive to environments that enable them to learn in different ways and can change according to their interests than they are to environments that never change. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) supports this idea, publishing an entire course that emphasizes how important it is for teachers to allow the children’s interests to shape the direction and topics of classroom activities (this educational approach is known as an emergent curriculum). If your furniture is on wheels, you will be able to rearrange your classroom in ways that enhance the learning experiences of your students.

In addition to improved learning, a new environment can give your students the opportunity to improve their social skills. Students could regularly sit with new groups of people and increase their abilities to interact and make friends. A classroom that can be easily and regularly rearranged will likely lead to higher levels of engagement from your students. 

A female teacher opens the drawer of a wheeled storage cabinet filled with building materials.

Furniture on Wheels Is Easy to Move

As you know, some of your classroom furniture–like cabinets or bigger tables–is really heavy. At some point during the year–whether during the actual school year or the summer–you will have to move these items for one reason or another. If the furniture doesn’t have wheels, moving it can be a real hassle. You will almost certainly have to recruit a few other people to help you, or you may have to find a hand truck that might end up being too small to hold your cabinet. We doubt we need to keep talking–we’re sure you can already feel the stress of the scenario.

If you have furniture with wheels, the issues we just described pretty much disappear. You do not have to worry about finding other people to help you, using moving materials you may not know how to use, hurting yourself, or anything else along those lines. You just have to unlock the casters and push the furniture where it needs to go. It almost goes without saying that this would save you lots of time and pain (literally).

You Can Move Furniture Between Classrooms

Because furniture with wheels is easy to move, it is much more possible to move furniture between classrooms. This would allow you to exchange items such as tables with other teachers on a regular basis. If you find that your students have gotten bored in the classroom even though you move your materials around a lot, completely new material from another classroom would reenergize them.

A female teacher pushes a wheeled sanded table over the threshold of an open door.

Cons of Furniture on Wheels

Increased Potential for Distraction and Injury

Because furniture with wheels is easy to move, it can be a distraction to your students once they figure out that it can move. They might try to move a table on wheels if they find out that a wheel is unlocked. Also, if you are doing an activity on the floor, your students might try to play with the wheels or unlock them. Children playing with casters also creates safety concerns because it is possible they will push, pull, and hang on casters when they find out they can jiggle. This could lead to injuries, such as a child running over their finger with a caster or pushing a piece of furniture into another child. When considering buying furniture with casters, be aware that you will have to closely monitor your students’ interactions with it and set clear boundaries around what is and is not allowed.  

Possible Rigidity over Time

If furniture with casters stays still for a prolonged period of time, the integrity of the caster will be affected. What this means is that the caster will become stiff and will not be able to roll as easily. Because of this, it is a good idea to move your furniture every couple of months (this doesn’t mean you have to rearrange your whole classroom; you can just push the cabinet back and forth). If you do not plan to do this, furniture with casters may not be a good fit for you.

Risk of Breaking

Casters can break. This risk is especially present when you try to wheel them over thresholds between classrooms or from one floor surface to another (for example, from linoleum floor to carpet). When you move your furniture, be aware of different floor surfaces and be careful.

The locking mechanisms on a set of furniture casters.

Possible Next Steps

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of whether or not furniture on wheels is a good fit for you. If you think you are ready to seriously consider getting furniture on wheels, take a look at our Carolina Mobile Teacher Cabinet or Deluxe Sand or Water Play Table. Kaplan does not carry mobile desks or chairs, but Lakeshore Learning does. If you want to incorporate those elements into your classroom, here are a couple of Lakeshore’s mobile student desk and mobile student chair options. We know that the decision to install classroom furniture with wheels can be a difficult one, but if this furniture will enhance your students’ learning experiences and make your life easier, we highly encourage you to get it!

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