On a few occasions, experience taught me—the hard way—some lessons about the furnishings in my classroom that would help me to keep the students safe. I have called this category of lessons “Furniture Fallout.” These things can happen in any class, and cause people to get hurt. Watch out for these and other types of furniture fallout in your classrooms.
Marker Board Mishap
On one occasion my classroom had a 2’ x 3’ square marker board sitting on an easel which was up next to the wall. Some overactive boys were running in the large classroom, and ran into the easel. As a result, the marker board fell off the easel and went crashing to the floor, landing right in front of a preschool-age girl. It scared her half to death and me too. I was not close enough to the easel to stop the calamity. Thank God for protecting this little one from a bad accident.
After sharing this incident with our pastor’s wife, we had all of the marker boards and other loose decorative items fastened tightly to the wall so they could not fall and hurt someone.
Puppet Stage Distraction
Another challenge with preschoolers became apparent when the children noticed a puppet stage was stored in our classroom. The puppet stage was constructed as a wooden box with three sides that were painted in bright colors, and the fourth side had a large window with a curtain hanging down over it. The curtain could be moved around as the puppets put on their presentations in the window stage. The puppet stage leaned against the wall of the room when it wasn’t being used.
As soon as the children came into the room, the puppet stage became a big challenge. The children made a game of trying to sneak into the puppet stage and hide from me during class. However, they quickly gave themselves away when the puppet stage started moving around or they would begin giggling from inside of the box. Rarely did they manage to hide without me finding out.
Another challenge came when the puppet stage nearly tipped over on a few of the children one day. The children were getting a little carried away with their activity inside the stage, causing it to lean forward and nearly tip over. Thankfully, I was close by, and told the children to stay away from the puppet stage so they wouldn’t get hurt.
In conclusion, be aware of any movable furnishings in your classroom and have them either moved into a different room or tack them down. If children can move them, rest assured they will try. Always be on the lookout for furniture fallout so children in the classroom do not get injured. If possible, do not store unused and/or unstable furnishings in rooms where children attend classes. This is an accident waiting to happen–more furniture fallout or even something worse.
I know God watches over us and our students. However, I believe He wants us to take precautionary measures and do what we can to help make our class environments safe.
One Sunday morning, in Children’s Church, my helpers took the children on a supervised bathroom break. As they were watching and assisting the small children, a couple of teen helpers and I went to set up the four large, round tables we used for snack and craft times. As I went to grab the first table, an exuberant five-year-old boy grabbed onto the table and said, “I want to help. I want to help.” So I let him hold one side of the table, though I knew I was really the one carrying the weight of it.
Just as we rolled the first table away from the wall, another exuberant boy ran over to the tables and began to grab the second table by himself. None of the teen helpers were close enough to stop the lad so I shouted, “No. Leave that table alone!” But before the other helpers even realized what was happening and could get close enough to help the lad, the table fell over, pinning the boy’s upper legs into a couple of chairs behind him.
As soon as I could I put down the table and rushed over to the boy who was pinned down by the other table and chairs. I quickly removed the table from his legs and asked the lad if he was hurt. He was frightened by the incident but thank God the lad wasn’t injured.
I explained to the boy that I was glad he wanted to help but he wasn’t big enough to move the tables by himself. I told him that he should let the adults do it. He seemed satisfied with what I said, so we went on with our lesson.
After Children’s Church I explained what had happened to the child’s parents. I am grateful the lad wasn’t hurt, and the parents seemed to understand that it was an accident.
In conclusion, I learned not to let small children “help” when it comes to moving around large furniture items. In this case, it would have been better to set the tables up before the children arrived. Though you try hard to be as careful as possible, unexpected accidents can happen before you even realize what’s happening. So don’t be surprised if little children get big ideas and want to help, without realizing their own limitations. As much as possible, set up the furniture before class and keep your eyes on the children at all times.
If church leaders will look over their classrooms and do regular safety checks, they could be more aware of accident hazards, and they can take measures to help make the classrooms a safer place. Also, any accidents should be reported to the leaders so the appropriate steps can be taken to keep people safe. So, if you notice marker boards and other safety hazards that could result in an accident in your classroom, please notify your church leaders and have them resolve the problem. This is especially important in rooms where children gather, as frequently they are unaware of the danger until someone get frightened or injured.
I know we will probably always have unexpected accidents come about and we probably can’t foresee all of them. However, I’m sure some can be avoided by looking for and being aware of the safety hazards around us and taking the appropriate measures to see that they are resolved. Generally church leaders are the ones who have the authority to see that these issues are resolved appropriately and as quickly as possible. And, I believe God has given these leaders a heart for the people in their congregations so, if they are truly called by God, they will see the need for dealing with furniture fallout.