Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Decorations

Heavily decorated classrooms bombard students with too much visual information, affecting their memory and ability to concentrate, a new study finds.

This is just the latest study to examine the relationship between the classroom environment and students’ executive functioning, which includes skills such as memory, attention, and self-regulation. The study’s co-authors, psychologists Pedro Rodriguez and Joseph Panderada, said that while teachers have good intentions when it comes to decorating, many classrooms are “sensory-rich” and “may hinder rather than Help your child’s learning progress.”

To understand how ornaments affect learning, Rodriguez and Panderada recruited 64 children, ages 8 to 12, to perform attention and memory tasks in two groups. For highly decorated groups, the walls of the room are covered with images of many common objects and scenes, such as cars, musical instruments, and trees. On the other hand, the walls of the control room were bare.

The children performed a series of tasks to test their concentration and memory. For example, in an attention test, they looked at a laptop screen, pressed a key when an X appeared and did nothing when a K appeared. In a memory test reminiscent of a Simon Says video game, the children observed nine blue squares turning yellow in different sequences, and the children tried to repeat the squares. A total of four tests were administered – two for memory and attention.

Compared with children in bare rooms, children in high-decorated rooms scored lower on all tests, suggesting that too many visual stimuli can be distracting.

“Overall, the findings of these studies suggest that children may have difficulty ignoring visual distractors when integrating into their environment,” the study authors explained.

Classes should be engaging, not distracting

That doesn’t mean every wall has to be bare. In 2015, a research team in the UK analyzed 153 classrooms and found that students benefited the most with a little decoration on the walls. “Wall displays should be designed to give classrooms a lively atmosphere rather than chaos. As a rule of thumb, 20 to 50 percent of available wall space should be free,” the researchers wrote.

So what do the researchers say teachers should do?

View student work. Not only are students more responsible for their learning, but they are also more likely to remember the material. 

Show inspiring role models. Hanging pictures with heroes and leaders, as well as short stories or quotes, can help students develop a greater sense of belonging and ambition, especially if their backgrounds and interests are reflected. Fight for inclusion, but avoid symbolism or stereotypes. They can damage students’ self-esteem.

Avoid confusion. Keep at least 20% of your wall space clean and leave enough space between monitors so they don’t look cluttered. Resist the temptation to add decorations – it’s better to swap them out than keep adding new ones.

Visual aids, like anchor charts, maps, and charts, are nice. Posters that reinforce lessons instead of distracting ones can boost student learning. But don’t forget to delete those that are no longer useful.

Avoid showing students’ grades or grades. Many teachers use data walls to motivate students, and while they can work for high-achieving students, they can backfire, leading to student shame and low morale.

Let natural light in. Do not cover windows with ornaments unless you have concerns about external glare or distraction. Students who received more natural light in the classroom performed better than their peers who received less natural light in math and reading. If you don’t have windows, making sure the room is well-lit can improve performance.

Balance the wall color. You don’t have to stick with four white walls – try painting one light color and muting the rest.

Brain Development

While decorating walls is a favorite pastime for many teachers, toddlers may not respond as much as their teachers would like them to.

“Our findings may be related to the fact that children’s cognitive abilities are still developing, including executive functions responsible for filtering irrelevant information for specific tasks,” the study authors explained. Teachers may have no trouble ignoring full wall decorations, but younger students may not be able to look away and focus on the lesson.

According to the Harvard Center for Child Development, children are not born with fully developed executive functions—they need to develop these skills over time. Children who have had adverse experiences (such as neglect, abuse, or violence) or have learning disabilities are at greater risk for impaired attention and self-regulation. As a result, distractions in the classroom can hurt the students who need them most.

The Third Teacher

The research is the latest in an emerging field that sees the classroom as the third teacher, after parents and teachers, who see the environment as critical to supporting learning. The idea is not new. Approaches such as Reggio Emilia and Montessori place it at the forefront of pedagogy and allow the classroom to play an important role in shaping student learning. Recent research shows evidence of the classroom’s role in learning: For example, a 2014 study found that younger students spend more time doing homework when classroom walls are beautifully decorated, while research on flexible classrooms suggests that optimizing classroom physical attributes, such as light, color, and seating options, can Improve academic performance by up to 16%.

The takeaway: Classroom walls should feel warm and vibrant, but not overcrowded—leave 20 to 50 percent of the wall space bare and fill the rest with student work, inspiring images, and study aids.

About the article

Heavily decorated classrooms bombard students with too much visual information, affecting their memory and ability to concentrate, a new study finds. In this article, we have discussed what should be and shouldn’t be done in decorating the classrooms for effective learning.

Bill westermen

Digital Entrepreneur, Website Builder, SEO Consultant and Professional. I have 12 years experience in Digital Marketing, And this is the future of Business

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