The Impact of Environment on Children’s Ability to Learn |

A student’s physical classroom environment plays a major role in his or her ability to learn. Because of this, classroom design is essential to the success of students in the classroom. There are factors such as lighting, temperature, noise and furniture that can be just as important to a child’s learning environment.Importance of Lighting in Classroom DesignObviously good lighting is essential for any classroom. Students need light to see the teacher and to read their books, the chalk board, or the projection screen. However, the amount of daylight (versus artificial light) in a classroom actually impacts students’ performance on standardized tests. The following observations were fond by a study that the Heschong Mahone Group conducted for Pacific Gas and Electric:
Students with the most daylight in their classrooms progressed twenty-six percent faster on reading tests and 20% faster on math tests in a year than did those with the least amount of daylight.
Students with the largest window areas progressed 23% faster in reading and 15% faster in math than those with the least.
Students in classrooms with skylights that diffused the daylight and allowed teachers to control the amount of daylight entering the room improved on their tests 19-20% faster than students without these skylights.
A 2003 follow-up study found that when direct sunlight beams into student’s faces, it is detrimental to their ability to learn. Not only is it a distraction, but it also causes unpleasant temperature changes that are hard to control. Additionally, light that creates a glare on the chalkboard impairs students’ ability to learn, particularly in math. The use of shades or blinds is an important element of classroom design that allows teachers to regulate sunlight in the classroom so students can benefits from natural daylight without being distracted by it.
The Role of Temperature in the Classroom EnvironmentClassroom temperature is another element that plays a role students’ ability to learn. While it’s impossible to make all student comfortable all of the time, classroom temperature should be set to an ideal temperature that that is acceptable for most of the class. This can be accomplished through a class discussion and teaching children the concept of compromise. Most teachers agree that a classroom should border on the cooler side. This is because while warm temperatures can lead to sleepiness and loss of attention, cooler temperatures keep students more alert. If some children find the room too cool for some, they can bring a jacket or sweater to class, thereby learning to take responsibility for their own comfort.The Impact of Acoustics on the Ability to LearnAcoustics in the classroom also create an impact on students’ ability to learn. Reverberant noises, or the sounds of equipment or machinery from outside the classroom are a hindrance to learning. They are distracting and interrupt the thought-flow process. Loud noises especially impact students’ ability to read. Independent research studies show a correlation between loud noises from outside the classroom and decreased reading proficiency. Installing soundproofing in the classroom can help eliminate some of the outside noise and whenever possible, big maintenance jobs should be reserved for after school hours.The Impact of Classroom Furniture on ChildrenChildren spend most of their waking hours in a classroom., and yet until recently the only consideration made for classroom Furniture purchases was the factor durability. In recent years some American companies like Hertz Furniture have invested in providing ergonomically designed, green furniture that considers the health of children including orthopedics and posture. Well designed school furniture also impacts the behavior of children in the classroom and recent research has shown an improvement in task related behaviors when children are provided with “healthy” furniture options.There are, of course, many variables within the classroom environment that impact children’s learning. Not all of these variables are controllable. But by taking steps to control the ones that are, both schools and teachers can give students the best possible environment to help them in their educational journey.