Classroom Color Schemes to Enhance Learning

Imagine walking through a kaleidoscope. At first glance it may look cool but after a few minutes of visual overload you would start looking for the exit. Teachers spend a great deal of time, money, and energy to create inviting learning environments. However, many do not realize that their color choices can affect student’s mood and learning.

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.

1 comment :

  1. Wow! Thank's for including "colorful" visuals. Opened my eyes to re-thinking color scheme for upcoming school year. As department chair, will be sending this to my other teachers, even though we are secondary science, this is very useful. Will be using the red/black for all our lab safety. Really drew my eye to "Warning" when I saw those two colors together. Until now, only thought of a single color scheme/theme for my entire classroom. I "see" now that mixed colors send very different messages. Very clean and clear article and images. Kudos!