The Physical Environment of Classrooms
Every morning when parents drop their kids off at school, they expect them to learn something new and have a great day. Teachers do their best to prepare engaging and informative lesson plans each year to accomplish both of those things, but learning goes beyond the pages of a book.
While students complete assignments during school hours, they spend most of the day in the same classroom. Depending on the design of the space, it could promote or discourage learning in a variety of ways.
Read on to learn how the physical environment of your classroom affects how well students gain an understanding of the world around them. With the right adjustments, teachers can make their classrooms more beneficial for their students without ever changing their day-to-day plans.
1. Decorate With Fun Decor
Most older kids don't have an issue going to school. They may not like to wake up early and attend class, but it's a routine they've lived with for years. Younger kids don't have that same history, which makes school an intimidating or scary experience for some.
The right classroom decor helps welcome every student who walks through your door. Pictures, banners and posters create an environment that immediately comforts kids. They also set the tone for the room that encourages kids to participate and have fun alongside their teacher.
2. Include the Right Colors
You might believe that as long as you include an array of colors in your classroom, your kids will love it. However, the wrong colors may deter them from feeling comfortable or absorbing information.
Studies have shown colors influence a child's psychology and physical state of being. Blues and yellows will calm children and encourage joy. Harsh colors like reds could create a tense or aggressive atmosphere. Think about the colors in your classroom and adjust them to help your students.
3. Consider Desk Arrangement
Classes used to line up 25 to 30 desks in straight rows, leaving seating assignments up to the teacher. Now, most schools ditch that concept for better desk arrangements that allow every student to have a front seat.
U-shapes are common in classrooms now because they make it easy for students to maintain eye contact with their teacher. Eye contact and feeling like they're right up front will engage students even when they aren't enthusiastic about being there, promoting their involvement in lessons.
4. Use LED Lighting
Teachers know the struggle of getting their students to concentrate for long periods, which could be anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. Kids of any age may become easily distracted if your room uses the wrong kind of lighting.
Schools should install LED lights in classrooms to help students learn. They have a proven ability to improve performance and concentration in most students. LED bulbs are also flicker-resistant, which makes a more comfortable environment for autistic students who are sensitive to light.
5. Invest in Visual Aids
Traditional methods of instruction require the teacher to talk each lesson over in detail, while students listen and take notes. Now, there are multiple recognized methods of learning, which are distinctive to each child.
Visual aids, such as posters, flyers and pictures, are beneficial to most kids, as found in a recent study comparing them to verbal lessons. They provide a concrete reference that may stick in a child's mind more easily than words. It gives them something to hold onto rather than just a concept.
6. Promote Clean Air Ventilation
Teachers have no control over when HVAC units and vents get inspected, but you can still promote clean air ventilation in a variety of ways. The Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that purifying school air reduced student absences by 3.4%, which especially helps younger students more affected by flu season.
Use an air purifier in your classroom to clean the air and push it around the room. You may want to open a window when the weather is nice, as long as pollen levels aren't high. A desktop fan could help as well. Check with your school's code of teacher conduct to make sure there are no rules against any of these options before using them to help students feel better in the classroom.
Weigh Your Options
Think about the age of your students and how you set up your room. Little details like the colors in your posters or LED lightbulbs could make a significant difference in how easily your students learn this year. Make it more engaging by talking with your students during the first week of school about which options they'd like to try, so they feel at home no matter what you decide to do.