Evaluating How We Decorate Our Rooms

By Tony Kline, Ph.D.

simple truth:

Learning is more powerful when those involved have ownership.

research tells us:

When is the last time that we moved into a new home and kept all of the decorations put up from the previous owner?  A new living space becomes more of our own when we decorate it as just that, our own.  This same sentiment is true for a student's new learning space, our classroom.  Student ownership in their learning can increase when their learning environment utilizes materials created by them or in their presence.  When we look at our classrooms, what do we see?  More importantly, when students look around our classrooms, what do they see?  Some researchers suggest that students, especially those of early childhood and elementary ages, who work in a high stimulus classroom can have more difficulty staying on task, can be less engaged in their work, and can have lower academic achievement.

try this:

  • Start the academic year with a blank canvas, then add materials that reflect learning taking place throughout the year.  While the classroom can look barren the first few weeks, it's impressive to visualize all that is learned during our time together with those students.
  • Honestly evaluate whether each of our materials and decorations serve a meaningful purpose
  • If we purchase pre-made materials to decorate, do the pictures and people represent all of our students and their families?
  • Know that more may not be better.  Students are entering our classrooms with an increased amount of stimulus, and an overdecorated room can encourage a child to block all of it out rather than thoughtfully process the material.
  • Take a careful look at how to utilize space and lighting in our classrooms to produce a safe, welcoming learning environment.

review & share this:

What do you consider when decorating your classroom?  Leave your thoughts/questions in the Comments section below.

For additional reading and referenced research, click here.