What's Wrong with Colour in the Classroom?
Updated: Dec 7, 2022
It has been the trend over the last few years to have a beige classroom. That's meant hessian-backed displays, natural resources and taupe-painted walls. A calming, peaceful and tranquil environment is definitely something that us teachers aim for but is there really anything wrong with a pop of colour? Research has shown that a monotone environment can cause anxiety, restlessness and irritation. As the new school year approaches and your thoughts turn to setting up your classroom, what if you didn't have to go beige?
The Psychology of Colour in the Classroom
Did you know that how you use colour in the classroom can positively (or negatively) impact on the learning and behaviour of your pupils? Colours can grab children's attention and even help with memory. In his 2016 paper, Abdolreza Gilavand investigates the impact of colour on learning. It's certainly something to keep in mind when setting up your dream classroom! Here we discover how different colours can affect children's mood and academic success:
Red - attention grabbing, energising, creates excitement and alertness
Yellow - encourages creativity, positive feelings and improves attention
Orange - lifts mood and encourages communication
Blue - relaxing, calming and improves concentration
Brown - reduces fatigue and makes children feel safe
Green - calming, can improve memory, peaceful and induces learning
Off white - improves attention and positive feelings
How to Inject Colour into Your Classroom
Clearly, too much colour in your classroom could overstimulate and overwhelm your pupils (and you). Nobody wants a play centre for a classroom. You definitely want to achieve a balance between neutral and bold colours. In addition, your school budget is probably not going to stretch to a full room refurb right now! Here are some easy and affordable ways for you to instantly inject some colour into your classoom:
Soft furnishings - add colourful cushions, throws, drapes and rugs to your reading area, home corner and carpet area
Hang prisms to reflect rainbows all over your walls
Brighten up your room with plants and flowers
Paint a cupboard, alcove or chair in a strong colour
Have colourful baskets, trays and stationary organisers dotted around the room
Back your display boards in hessian but use an attention grabbing colour as a border
Go for bold coloured exercise books or folders
Print on pastel coloured paper to decrease eye strain, or use coloured overlays instead
Using Colour in Your Continuous Provision
With all that we have learnt in mind, here are some suggestions for you to try in the different areas of your continuous provision:
Use splashes of red in your writing, role play and music areas to energise pupils and to help keep them motivated and alert
Welcome children into your reading area with blue tones, to aid concentration and to ensure that they feel relaxed
Inspire pupils and spark their creativity with yellow hues in your art, construction and investigation areas
Make children feel safe and secure when they explore the home corner, with soft browns, natural materials and neutral colours
Consider using off-white and greens to induce learning in your maths area
How about adding warm orange accents to underused areas of provision - orange can attract attention and lift mood. Be careful if you have a particularly lively class though, as orange can overstimulate!
What Shall I Do Next in My Classroom?
As time goes on, you may notice that different colours evoke different responses from your pupils. Don't be afraid to change things or scrap ideas which aren't working. As you get to know your class, you might find yourself introducing more red, orange and yellow to inject a bit more energy! On the other hand, you might be heading down a more blue, green and brown route if you have a 'spirited' class! Let us know what works for you in the comments below.
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