According to the International Association of Color Consultants, appropriate color design is important in creating surroundings conducive to learning. They also note poor planning of light and color in a room can lead to irritability and premature fatigue.
In his book, Color, Environment, and Human Response, Frank H. Mahnke gives these guidelines for choosing colors in educational settings:
Pre-school and elementary – Warm and bright to stimulate intelligence and reduce anxiety
Secondary – Cool colors to improve concentration
Libraries – Cool or pale green to enhance quietness and concentration
Choosing how to use color in your classroom can be difficult though when there is so much to fill our walls. Between anchor charts, strategy posters, student work, etc. it is easy for our classrooms to become visual chaos.
You may find it helpful to consider the purpose of different areas in your room before you begin to decorate. For example, an ocean or sky blue is thought to create a relaxing environment that evokes creativity. However, in excess or in deeper intensities such as navy blue, it can depress or bring feelings of sadness.
Red is often associated with danger or emergency for children due to stop lights, fire trucks, hospital signs, etc. If used in limited amount for more important things, it is often associated with importance and given greater attention to detail.
The color yellow is associated with sunshine and happiness when used in moderation; but too much can make a child feel stressed.
Orange is believed to enhance critical thinking and memory. If you have a tutoring or testing area, you might consider using orange accents.
If you’re including a “time-out” or “cool-down” corner in your room, green is the best choice for calming.
On the other hand, purple is thought to be ideal for getting attention.
The goal is to find a balance in coordinating colors to make your room appealing while recognizing the cognitive and emotional influences of color. If you've found color combinations that have been successful to enhance learning in your classroom, we'd love for you to share a photo with us.