Teachers are always encouraged to make their classrooms feel welcoming for learners. They usually do this by decorating the classrooms with posters, maps and other related material. But sometimes too much decoration can be harmful, this is especially true when it comes to young learners.
A study by Pedro F. S. Rodrigues and Josefa N. S. Pandeirada titled ‘When visual stimulation of the surrounding environment affects children’s cognitive performance’ investigated whether a high-load versus a low-load visual surrounding environment influences children’s cognitive performance.
They sampled 64 children (aged 8-12 years) who completed two sessions in two environmental conditions: high-load visual surrounding environment and a low-load environment. In each session, they performed visuospatial attention and memory tasks.
According to the study, high-load visual environment affected children’s cognitive performance given that children performed better in the low-load visual environment. This implies that the children were less focused in the former environmental setup as compared to the latter.
Another study by Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin, and Howard Seltman titled ‘Visual Environment, Attention Allocation, and Learning in Young Children: When Too Much of a Good Thing May Be Bad’ looked at 24 kindergarten learners (12 girls, 12 boys; mean age = 5.37 years) recruited from the same kindergarten classroom in a laboratory school.
The researchers were investigating whether classrooms containing many displays could harm children’s ability to maintain focused attention during instruction.
The study denotes that:
Children were more distracted by the visual environment, spent more time off task, and demonstrated smaller learning gains when the walls were highly decorated than when the decorations were removed.
The importance of early childhood development and learning is no longer a topic to be argued, therefore any distraction affecting how children develop and learn needs careful attention.
More studies especially with the involvement of teachers also need some attention. This would give teachers a chance to design classrooms that will result in effective learning.