Selecting the Correct Height School Chair

Selecting the right height school chair for your classroom can be tricky. Many teachers find themselves asking, “what size school chairs do I need for my classroom?”. Classroom chairs and school furniture typically don’t come with a size printed on the side or bottom, so how do you know you are ordering the right size chair for your school classroom? Worthington Direct has put together several helpful aids to get you the correct school chair you need.

Most school chairs for 5th grade through high school use a standard 18″ chair. Some manufacturers, like Scholar Craft offer a 17.5″ or 17 1/2″ student chair instead of an 18″ chair, which is also considered a full size chair. 5th Grade students through High School, to Adult size student chairs are typically 18″ high – the de facto standard chair height. Worthington Direct recommends only 18 inch size for High School Chairs and Middle School chairs.For preschool through 4th grade it is best you measure your existing school chairs or reference our chair size table to choose the best height classroom chairs for your school. This helpful Wikipedia article goes in to great depth about school chair dimensions and ergonomics relating to chair size.


An important rule of thumb is that you can always fit a student in to a larger chair, but you should never seat a child in a chair too small for them. Students in too-small school chairs create antsy, fidgeting, uncomfortable students who are more likely to act out and be disruptive. A larger chair will be more comfortable and fit the student best as they continue to grow. The breakdown of school chairs is generally 12″ chairs for preschool and smaller kindergartners, 14″ chairs for larger kindergartners and most 1st graders and smaller 2nd graders, 16″ classroom chairs for larger 2nd graders, most 3rd graders and fourth grade students. 18″ Chairs fit the tallest 5th graders and are an excellent choice for middle schools, high schools and colleges. 12, 14, 16 and 18″ chairs are made by popular manufacturers such as Virco, Scholar Craft Royal and more.

To measure a school chair these steps should be taken. Place your existing school chair on a flat surface. Find the tallest point on the seat (not the backrest) of your student’s chair. Measure from the floor to the highest point. This should give you the correct height for the chair you need to order.

Some manufacturers build chairs smaller than 12″ high. It is tempting to order these 7, 8, 9 and 10″ chairs for your students, especially when the prices are lower cost than a 14″ or 16″ chair, but it is important to note that children ages 3 and up cannot sit in such small chairs for very long. School chairs as small as 7″-10″ are generally designed for 12 months to two years and will quickly outgrow them. Such small sizes are thus only recommended for early childhood centers that specialize in the age range of 12-24 months.

3 thoughts on “Selecting the Correct Height School Chair

  1. Thanks for your research on the school furniture. This article is quite helpful for us. Thank you.

  2. The statement about you can always put a child in a larger chair SHOULD be REEXAMINED!!! If a child continually sits in a chair too tall for them then their feet dangle or are not firmly on the floor resulting in strain on the low back. As a 5 ft woman I have struggled with my low back due your idea that bigger is better. Shame!

  3. Hi Veronica,
    Yes, it is ideal that the feet of a student be on the floor while sitting so that their feet do not dangle. When buying a chair for you or your child at home this is very important to take the time to find the right fit for your respective sizes. However, when outfitting an entire classroom with chairs for students of varying heights, most schools don’t have the resources to provide custom chairs for every student and a thus an average chair size is provided. The good news is that a lot classrooms are introducing alternative seating such as couches, floor chairs and bean bags which allow the students to seat themselves how they like. Another great trend in classroom ergonomics is standing desks which allow students a chance to be on their feet for periods of time throughout the day. Most schools provide stools so that students can still sit as needed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.