Matthew R. Stover
Updated: Jul 12, 2022
Putting too much stuff on your walls is hurting your students
Every year, educators work to make their schools and classrooms warm and inviting. Whether it's large maps on the wall or colorful baskets of markers at each table, the more decorations, the better, right?
If every square inch of your classroom or school walls is filled with colorful posters, borders, and pictures, you may be doing more harm than good. A study from the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that too much visual stimulation could overwhelm a child's brain and hinder their learning ability.
Each piece of artwork is competing for students' attention, which in turn creates more distractions. Researchers Michael Hubenthal and Thomas O'Brien found that "the visual complexity caused by an abundance of text and small images can set up an overwhelming visual/verbal competition between text and graphics for which students must gain control in order to give meaning to information."
What is the best way to decorate so students won't be overwhelmed?
Involve students in the decoration process. Not only will this build better educator-to-student relationships by giving them the power to decide, but students will be able to determine a comfortable amount of decorations.
Make your decorations meaningful. Do your decorations have a purpose? Do they tie into the theme of your class? Posters should have information that leads to greater belonging or improved academic outcomes.
Tell your students why your decorations are essential. If it's important enough to put a poster on a wall, it's important enough to talk about.
How are you decorating your classroom? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook.