Is classroom decoration important for early childhood learning?
Photo by Arthur Krijgsman
Throughout their lives, people grow by adapting and reacting to their environments. For example, think about a child who’s climbing a tree in the middle of summer. He’s learning physical coordination and practicing calculated risk. Different environments offer different opportunities for learning through experimentation and observation.
When children feel secure in their environment, they’re able to fully engage with their surroundings. Curiosity, openness, and risk-taking are all necessary for learning. So is stimulation from people and the surrounding environment. That’s why having appropriate classroom decor is an important part of early childhood learning.
Research on early education classrooms suggests that too much decor can be distracting for students. Proponents of minimalism suggest a simple approach to adult decor for similar reasons – a calm space can create a calm mind. However, these studies don’t mean that all decor is distracting or harmful for students.
During their early years, kids are learning how to manage their attention. If they’re surrounded by bright shapes and pictures, they may struggle to pay attention when the teacher speaks. Classroom decor should be directly connected to the classroom so it serves to redirect students back to learning material.
One way decor can help students is by physically reminding them of classroom rules and procedures. Procedures are the steps you want a student to take in a specific situation, like how to ask for help or what to do if they need to use the restroom. Procedures reduce distractions and help students focus so they can learn and retain information.
Many teachers use posters and other visual aids to remind kids how to behave in the classroom. The faster students learn these procedures, the smoother class goes and the more attention kids can give to learning. For very little kids, you should include pictures along with words to help them remember each step.
One of the most important parts of early education is teaching kids to have confidence in themselves. This happens through connection, affirmation, and allowing kids to take risks. Studies show that one of the best ways to help kids develop confidence is by teaching them to think with a growth mindset.
You can use classroom decor to boost kids’ confidence by displaying their projects and artwork on the walls throughout the year. The public display creates an opportunity for kids to showcase their strengths and see how far they’ve come. It can help develop motivation and goal-setting and teach kids to handle the social pressure of being an individual.
Many early education classrooms are decorated in a rainbow of colors. This attracts attention and stimulates kids’ curiosity. However, having too many colors can be distracting and creates a feeling of clutter in your classroom. Consider toning it down to a few coordinating colors so it’s easier for your students to stay focused and engaged.
Blue and green are both calming colors. White and other neutrals are good options for wall colors and some teachers use bright colors like yellow and orange as accents to keep students awake and stimulated. The lighting in your classroom can also affect student concentration – plenty of natural light is ideal.
Clear the air
Although it’s not discussed often, poor air quality in the classroom can also affect student learning. Several studies have shown that students’ grades improve after filter systems are installed and their air is cleaner. Poor air specifically affects concentration levels, making it more difficult for students to pay attention and learn.
Try installing an air purifier in your classroom to improve your students’ experience. In addition to sharpening concentration, clean air can also reduce anxiety for students with asthma. It’s an invisible change that will make a major difference in the atmosphere of your classroom. To get the most out of your air purifier, you’ll need to change the filter regularly.
Decorate with intention
The decor in your early education classroom is important because it creates an environment that stimulates learning. Too many colors, pictures, and posters can distract students, while too few can make your classroom feel cold and sterile.
Children have vivid imaginations and naturally engage with the world around them. You can support their early education by creating a classroom environment that’s peaceful, fun, and designed to build their confidence. Start with these five tips and don’t be afraid to adjust your goals to better support each student.