Dos and Don'ts of KidMin Classroom Decorating
For those of you fortunate enough to have classroom space dedicated to KidMin, you may wonder, "How do I decorate it?" Some KidMin leaders leave their rooms looking bare, while others might cover the kids with decorations if they stand still for too long.
Can you decorate too much, though? And if so, how much is too much?
I found an article by Youki Terada on Edutopia that sheds some light on these questions. Terada points to a new study that found that "Heavily decorated classrooms can bombard students with too much visual information, interfering with their memory and ability to focus."
For the study, researchers gathered a sample of 64 children between the ages of 8 and 12 and divided them into two groups: high-decoration and low-decoration. For the high-decoration group, the walls were covered in pictures of ordinary, every-day objects. For the low-decoration group, the walls were bare. The children in both groups then performed a series of tasks that measured their attention and memory.
What did the study find?
The children in the high-decoration group performed worse on all tests given. The conclusion, in short, is that environments that are too visually rich can have a negative impact on children's ability to pay attention and learn.
Does that mean bare walls are best?
In a separate study, British researchers examined 153 classrooms and discovered that students in classrooms with some decorations benefited the most. Their conclusion was that, “The displays on the walls should be designed to provide a lively sense to the classroom, but without becoming chaotic in feel. As a rule of thumb, 20 to 50 percent of the available wall space should be kept clear.”
So what do researchers suggest you do?
Terada compiled the following list of research-backed ideas for decorating a classroom. I've adjusted it for KidMin classrooms.
Display student work. Kids love seeing their creative efforts displayed on a wall. Did they create "praise pictures" to Jesus for part of the lesson? Put them on the wall. Or create a "prayer wall" where kids can write and post their prayers.
Feature inspiring role models. Put up pictures of heroes of the faith or people from the Bible. The GO! curriculum comes with Bible character illustrations. As you work your way through the Bible, display the characters on a wall so kids can see the Biblical narrative unfold.
Avoid clutter. As stated by the researchers, keep 20% to 50% of your wall space clear. For the rest of the walls, display your decorations in a way that isn't too chaotic.
Balance wall colors. A KidMin room with four white walls can be underwhelming. On the other hand, a room with four brightly colored walls can be too much. Instead, paint one accent wall a fun color, with the others being muted.
The takeaway, according to Youki Terada is this: " Classroom walls should feel warm and lively but not overcrowded—keep 20 to 50 percent of the wall space clear, and fill the rest with student work, inspiring pictures, and learning aids.