This article, "Heavily Decorated Classrooms Disrupt Attention and Learning In Young Children" (Association of Psychological Science, May 2014, http://goo.gl/cHBvEb) has been making the rounds on social media of late. The takeaway: research showed that "children in highly decorated classrooms were more distracted, spent more time off-task and demonstrated smaller learning gains than when the decorations were removed." What's your take?
I'm going to be honest here and admit I have a bias in this conversation because I'm utterly HORRIBLE at classroom decorations, bulletin boards and the like. Making matters worse, since I teach 500+ students (the entirety of the K-4 student body in our elementary school) in a computer/STEM lab setting, whatever I place has to appeal to a broad range of students. At least, that's one of my excuses for NOT decorating...
I'm also going to admit that, again, in my experience, some of the most warm, welcoming and inviting elementary classrooms in my school are quite literally filled to capacity with ... stuff! Massive quantities of instructional materials, painstakingly arranged and presented in thoughtful, creative ways ... contributing to a very relaxing, kid-friendly environment. This is especially true in Kindergarten, the subject of the study in question.
For reference, here is a photo of the classroom I inherited (it was a third grade teacher's space) BEFORE I moved in:
and here it is AFTER I transformed it into my learning space two years ago:
Admittedly, the uses of the rooms are very different; third grade self-contained and Computer/STEMLAB are not much alike, but, if I had an ounce of decorating savvy my walls wouldn't be so barren.
So, now I'm wondering - should I even decorate at all? Would the addition of visuals significantly distract my kids from the tasks at hand? Or make the environment more welcoming? Or not make any difference at all?
What are your views on classroom decorations? (I'm just now realizing that late August / early September would be a better time to share this post, but, here we are...)
Thanks for any insight!