ReThinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom

The space we inhabit on a daily basis leaves a deep impression upon our psyches. How calm or busy this environment is can say much about our inner lives though for most of us we don’t even notice it. One of the most significant differences of a classroom inspired by the Waldorf philosophy is the quality contained within the space. Parents remark on it consistently.

In this article from the New York Times Jan Hoffman reports on a new study about the effects of busy walls on a child’s ability to focus and concentrate on their work.

Imagine a kindergarten classroom. Picture the vividly colored scalloped borders on the walls, the dancing letters, maybe some charming cartoon barnyard animals holding up “Welcome to School!” signs.

That bright, cheery look has become a familiar sight in classrooms across the country, one that has only grown over the last few decades, fed by the proliferation of educational supply stores. But to what effect?

new study looked at whether such classrooms encourage, or actually distract from, learning. The study, one of the first to examine how the look of these walls affects young students, found that when kindergartners were taught in a highly decorated classroom, they were more distracted, their gazes more likely to wander off task, and their test scores lower than when they were taught in a room that was comparatively spartan.

The researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University, did not conclude that kindergartners, who spend most of the day in one room, should be taught in an austere environment. But they urged educators to establish standards.

Read the full article here >