A study published in May 2014 in ‘Psychological Science’ has confirmed what some teachers have known for years – that an uncluttered classroom makes a much better learning environment for children.
Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania conducted a series of experiments to find out what effect visual clutter has on children’s ability to stay focused. They discovered that ‘children were more distracted by the visual environment, spent more time off task, and demonstrated smaller learning gains when the walls were highly decorated than when the decorations were removed’.
But if you search for “kindergarten classroom” on Google images, you’ll immediately see that this knowledge is not common practice. Not by a long way! Photo after photo shows that the the brighter and busier the better seems to be the motto in most schools.
The rationale for this seems to be based in the fact that babies’ eyesight at birth is in the range of 20/600 to 20/400, which means they are legally blind. For the first few years of life everything looks foggy and dull, so manufacturers create toys in primary colours to attract a child’s attention. However after full sight has developed, which happens some time between the ages of 3 and 5, too many bright colours can be distracting and over-stimulating.
Teachers who have taken the initiative to declutter their classrooms tell me that the children become calmer, better behaved, and much easier to work with. And I have seen similar effects in clients’ homes after I have recommended toning down brightly decorated children’s bedrooms and reducing visual clutter by storing toys in closed cupboards rather than on open shelves. I’m not saying this is a cure-all. But removing visual clutter is an aspect that’s often overlooked and can certainly help.
Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2014
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