Conscious Color for your Learning Environment

As summer begins to wind down, we turn our thoughts to the upcoming school year. Whether in a private school, public school, school pod, or home schooling, color is universal in it’s power and impact for the student and instructor. 97% of surveyed educators and parents say that colors and décor are related to positively affecting a student’s engagement. Specific paint colors will increase focus, calm and joy. An empowered classroom also has an impact on the morale and performance of instructors and teachers. “Interviewees reported that classrooms with old, dull-colored coats of paint dampened educators’ energy, pride, and sense of ownership in their schools.”

Color in the classroom is a powerful element impacting the student in both a psychological and physiological way. There is a documented connection between academic achievement, behavior and color expressions. We can learn the power of color and create learning environments that will enhance and support the student’s success. Removing detrimental sensory overload and increasing defined color strategies will benefit all levels of students, including those that are most sensitive to stimulation. Color is documented to affect both sighted and non-sighted students.

Color in the Classroom

Some Tips for Classroom – Public, Private, Learning Pods, Home Schools

Avoid Monotone Classroom Colors – they create feelings of fear and anxiety
Lack of color will contribute to students developing irritability, lack of focus, excessive emotion, and restlessness.

Color in the Classroom

Avoid Excess of Clutter and Overstimulation
Too much color and chaos is a distraction and detracts from the learning experience.
“A stressful learning environment will result from excessive use of color.”

Color in the Classroom

Create an Accent Wall
This teaching wall is what would be called a “Fame’ wall in Feng Shui terms. A front or side wall that is solid needs to be a deeper shade than the other surrounding walls. This adds visibility to the instructor and the materials, and also reduces glare from overhead lighting. If you are teaching from home, you might be able to set up a colored window drape to “create” this effect. Home schooling is often set up in a kitchen or family room. It is important to “set” the classroom up with adjustments to empower the learning experience.

Color in the Classroom

Choosing Classroom Colors
Ideally finding a balance is always the most empowered way forward. A warm neutral tan or sand color for the walls and floors, with the teaching wall a deeper tone. White ceilings. Avoid very strong primary colors. Soft greens and blues can be used in other areas of the classroom. Colored tape can be used to outline charts or create boundaries.

Additional Color Research
In a study to determine cognitive responses of 8 – 9-year-old students five different colors were applied to classrooms each week with an attention test conducted weekly. Private and State schools both ranked with the highest scores for Purple, followed by Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. Red wall colors had the lowest scores. Ref: ITU A/Z

Where possible, bring in natural light and full spectrum lighting.

Color Schemes
Children prefer warm and bright colors. Bright colors used as accents or in learning as not to over stimulate. Adolescents prefer cooler and more subdued colors. Blue is connected to math and science. High schoolers prefer deeper tones such as dark green, navy, gray, violet, deep turquoise.

Color in Learning Materials and Presentations
Intensive research has shown that tests with colored images performed 10% higher than one with black and white images. Consistency is important. If you teach with colored displays and images and then test in black and white, the grades drop. In Multimedia presentations, colors perform higher than black and white with attention and memory retention.

Color Notes from  “The Inclusive Classroom”  Texas Tech University
Table 1 Categories, Issues, and Findings Related to Color Category
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– Concerned with the base of the spine and motor skills
– Raises blood pressure
– Increases respiration
– Heart beats faster
– Heightened sense of smell
– Associated with excitement and happiness
– Positive reaction – girls more positive than boys
– High preference for 7-year-olds
– Associated with anger, pain, happiness, and love in 4th grade students

– Favorite color for 7 and 11-year-olds
– Correlates to eyes, ears, and nose – seeing, hearing, smelling
– Sight and hearing impaired children favor prefer blue
– Calming effect on heart rate and respiratory system
– Lower body temperature
– Reduced appetite
– Positive reaction – girls more positive than boys
– Associated with sadness in 4th grade students

– Responds to chest, heart, lungs
– Children with asthma and other breathing problems react favorably to yellow
– High preference for 7-year-olds
– Associated with honesty in 4th grade students.
– Most luminous and visible of all colors
– Large quantities may irritate the eye

– Relates to the throat and vocal cords
– Affects developing speech skills
– The most restful for the eye
– Associated with life in 4th grade females

– Corresponds to circulation and nervous systems
– Tremendous tonic effect

– Corresponds to the top of the head and cerebral activity
– Supports non-verbal activity
– Symbolizes high levels of wisdom and authority
– In children: a mind deep in thought, concerned, or afraid

– Positive reaction – females more positive than males
– Tranquilizing effect
– Reduces aggression in prisoners

– Negative emotions – males more positive than females
– Associated with strength in 4th grade males

– Negative emotions – males more positive than females
– Associated with school and fear in 4th grade males

– Negative emotions – males more positive than females

Cool Colors Recede
– Preferred by active children
– Recommended for secondary classrooms

Warm Colors Advance
– Preferred by passive children
– Preferred by preschool and elementary students

Colors are powerful communication tools!
“According to the International Association of Color Consultants – North America (IACC-NA), a school’s physical environment has a powerful psycho-physiological impact on its students. “Appropriate color design is important in protecting eyesight, in creating surroundings that are conducive to studying, and in promoting physical and mental health.” The IACC also notes that many cases of irritability, premature fatigue, lack of interest and behavioral problems can be attributed directly to incorrect environmental conditions involving poorly planned color and lighting.”

By Renae Jensen