Can an Attractive Classroom Motivate Kids to Learn?

By Anita Holmes
Attractive classrooms invite student participation and learning.
Attractive classrooms invite student participation and learning.

An attractive classroom with a seamless setup -- both visual and physical -- can boost student learning. A number of elements contribute to creation of an attractive classroom. When consistently applied, these physical factors can enhance students' motivation to learn. A pleasant, visually interesting classroom is fashioned from a fine balance of organization, color, materials and focus. In all regards, classroom design begins with student needs.

Furniture Placement

An attractive classroom begins with dimensions and the best placement of everything from bookshelves to student desks within the parameters of the room shape. Most schools have a varied selection of desks, tables, chairs, storage units and shelving from which a teacher can choose. Teachers often bring in other items at their own expense, such as a sofa or beanbag chairs. Teachers create a floor plan based on the number of students, and any special student needs. For example, if some students need discrete space to buffer potential behavior challenges, an individual desk may be the optimal arrangement. Other students might do best in a group desk setting, facilitating cooperative learning activities. Beginning with student needs and basic classroom proportions, teachers can devise an attractive, efficient furniture placement plan that enables easy flow from one project to another over the course of the school day. A well-planned classroom also provides quick and easy access for the teacher to all students. As opposed to a chaotic classroom with marginal flow, a carefully planned furniture layout assists the learning process for kids.

Classroom Principles of Color

In large architectural elements, such as classroom walls, appropriate color contributes to enhanced student learning. Rikard Kuller, a researcher who studied the effects of color on the human psyche, discovered that certain colors relieve student eye fatigue, increase productivity and accuracy. In elementary schools, single-color walls with a muted shade from the warm side of the color wheel -- such as beige -- are welcoming to youngsters. Other appropriate warm colors are soft peach, light rust, browns, cream and gold. However, in middle and high school classrooms, colors from the cool side of the color wheel contribute to students' ability to focus. Appropriate cool colors include greens, blues and grays. While school hallways can suitably sport wildly colored displays and bulletin boards, classrooms exhibiting a restrained, single-color wall magnifies kids' chances for learning.

Materials Presentation

Active learning involves a myriad of classroom supplies. Students regularly interact with everything from math manipulatives, reading books, items for science projects and art materials. Materials that are well organized, attractively labeled and easily retrieved contribute to an inviting classroom that promotes effective student learning.

Changing Focus

Continued high interest is a vital element in motivating student learning. Seasonal or unit updating of classroom bulletin boards and other decorative elements renews student attention and focus on the current teaching event. The old adage "less is more" is a good rule for guiding teachers when adding visual details to classroom surfaces. A student's focus is diminished when he is overwhelmed by wall-to-wall competing displays. Attractive classroom wall presentations focusing on the most important learning units students are currently undertaking can help motivate them to learn.

About the Author

A retired teacher, Anita Holmes is an experienced seamstress, wood worker and home decor specialist. She's designed and constructed new homes, gardens, remodeled multiple homes, built furniture, decks and cabinets and sewn everything from custom drapes to intricate quilts. Holmes holds a Master of Public Administration degree.