Teacher Tips

Creating a Great Learning Environment

Summer is again coming to a close and, with that, school is again set to open their doors. You’ll immediately know when school is about to start when stores start stacking bins and storing shelves full of school supplies. Parents and kids are whipped into a frenzy, buying school supplies left and right. But it’s not just the parents and kids who are also enticed by all these school supply havens; teachers are also busy brainstorming how best to decorate their classrooms.

Undeveloped focus of attention

Ever since we were little, the majority of our nursery and kindergarten classrooms are always fondly remembered as colorful and fun learning environments. However, in 2014, a study was conducted that aimed to compare colorful classroom decorations to spartan ones and determine which one encouraged a healthier learning environment. This study, headed by Anna V. Fisher of Carnegie Mellon University, found that classrooms that were too colorful and excessively decorated distracted the students and decreased their learning gains.

The previously mentioned study focused particularly on kindergarten students—those aged five years or below. As one would expect, these young students still have not yet learned to focus their attention, hence the findings of the study. With this insight in mind, do we, as teachers, forego the colorful and eye-catching designs we always put in our classrooms? As with everything else, decorations must be done in moderation.

When decorating your classroom, take these tips to both entice your students and focus their attention.

Let the classroom grow with the children.

At the beginning of the year, keep the classroom decorations at a minimum. Include only a few relevant posters or other designs. As the school year progresses, you can decorate the classroom with some of the children’s works and achievements. In this manner, the focus of the students is directed on only one or several points. Other than being encouraged to achieve more, they can even take inspiration from their classmates’ work.

By the end of the year, they (and also their parents) can track their progress based on what they see around the classroom. By decorating the classroom with their own achievements, you hit two birds with one stone: making the classroom more lively and encouraging growth in your students.

Go for an understated look

You do not need to forego all manner of decorations in your classroom. Keep your decorations as simple and clean as you can. If possible, gather all your students’ artworks in one area of the room where they will not distract your students when you’re teaching or discussing something.

The advantage of this is that they still have the chance to showcase their work while not being a hindrance to the learning process.

Have a theme

Similar to the previous tip, keep everything as orderly as you can. If there is a decorating idea you want (and you’re sure that it will contribute to the learning process), have a theme. You may employ a color scheme by using complementary colors. This way, everything will still look enticing but not chaotic. Remember that the more colors you use, the more distracting it will be to the young students.

There are a lot more techniques you can employ that will make for a great learning environment. Just remember that your classroom decorations should encourage learning and not act as mere distractions. Have fun!

Maria Dublin
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Maria is a writer, an editor, and a law student. She plays for the Philippine national touch football team, and does a lot of travelling during the holidays.