The beginning of 2021 threw educators, parents, and health officials into confusion, especially with the prevalence of the Delta variant at the time. Now, with a few months into the reopening of classes and the roll-out of vaccinations for children ages five to 11, it seems that things are slowly settling into the new normal.
However, this doesn’t mean that all the in-person schooling challenges have been resolved. Aside from the learning loss due to the pandemic, young students are likely struggling with mental pressures, fear, and discomfort. It’s important that teachers take additional time to help students (and themselves) readjust to this unprecedented scenario.
One way teachers can support students is by optimizing the physical space of the classroom. Here are four design and decor tips to do just that:
Repurpose and Reuse Classroom Decor Materials
In a survey of K-5 educators conducted by Epson and Merrill Research, 80% of elementary teachers had to spend money out-of-pocket on classroom supplies. Given this reality, teachers have to balance making classrooms look attractive while keeping costs down at the same time. A great way to do both is to repurpose and recycle materials, especially as everyone is looking towards sustainability. You can upcycle plastic and metal containers, or repurpose décor from home which don’t have a lot of value. It can also be therapeutic for students to create colorful artwork out of old newspapers or bottle caps for classroom wall displays, which teaches them about recycling as well.
Talk to a Professional
A classroom’s indoor environmental quality affects teaching and learning. Poor indoor air, thermal, acoustic, and lighting conditions can negatively influence the quality of education due to discomfort, and impair both mental and physical health of students — while optimal conditions help students feel more alert and pay attention. It’s a good idea to talk to a psychologist on how to improve your classroom. Professionals with psychology degrees undergo training on the biological, social, and clinical aspects of human behavior, so they can apply psychology in healing individual health and relationships. They can advise you on things like which seating arrangements foster more collaboration, or which color palettes can stimulate young students.
Take Inspiration from Nature
Speaking of color psychology, green is one shade you should definitely have throughout your classroom. Low wavelength colors like green promote restfulness and calm, and it’s tied to increased efficiency, focus, and concentration as well. While you may not be able to repaint the classroom walls, bringing in natural elements can help a lot. Some studies suggest that adding plants in a classroom can improve grades and reduce absences among middle school students. Natural daylight is important as well, so place seats close to the windows and remove blinds that block out the sun.
Add Educational Elements to your Classroom Bulletin Boards
Wall space is one of the most important dimensions of a physical classroom. It should be pleasing to the eye, and pay special attention to daily functions, student morale, and additional learning. Keep your class’s daily agenda visible on the walls. As we previously discussed, younger students feel more at ease if they know what’s coming next, and they can better settle into a daily routine. Then, you can have an organized display of student work, which boosts their self-esteem and fosters ownership. It’s also great to have educational material posted around for the benefit of wandering minds. Bulletin board kits featuring ancient civilizations and earth sciences are highly-informative additions for any classroom, so be sure to check these out today.
-Written by Haley Martel for teachstudentsavvy.com
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