How to Design Your Classroom for the New School Year

Back-to-school blog series #1

August 11, 2016

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In the Classroom

Among the 1,001 things to think about during the back-to-school flurry is how you’ll set up your classroom. From seating to lights to decor, these ideas will help you foster a space for learning and curiosity.

Have a seat

If you’re willing to think a little outside of the box, seating doesn’t mean just chairs! Whether you want to completely overhaul your classroom or are just planning some tweaks, seating is a great place to start. Muffle sound by placing used tennis balls or felt on chair feet. Consider flexible seating, such as swapping out some chairs for exercise balls or providing some standing desks/tables. You could also offer cozy seating options, like cushions, beanbag chairs, or yoga mats, at stations and reading nooks.

Layout, layout, layout

The layout of your classroom is crucial to keeping students engaged and focused. When setting up your room, make sure the focal points are away from entrances and exits to minimize distractions. Keep student traffic patterns in mind so that kids have a clear path to all the areas and supplies they’ll need throughout the class.

It’s also a great idea to set aside spaces for different learning activities that allow students to focus on the task at hand. A small library or reading nook, a computer corner, and independent or group study areas make it clear what students should be working on.

Want to play around with different layouts but having trouble visualizing everything? This neat tool allows you to create a virtual floor plan and move desks, tables, storage units, rugs, and more around.

Light up your room

Natural light improves mood and creates a more welcoming environment. Keep windows clear of bulky furniture and leave blinds open when possible to maximize natural lighting. Alternative lighting, such as lamps or Christmas lights, creates a warm atmosphere, especially in small areas like reading nooks.

Deck the walls

Bulletin boards and posters are lots of fun, but make sure not to overdo it: clutter and visual crowding can distract students and make it harder for them to focus. A good rule of thumb is to keep wall space 20–50% clear. And don’t forget to save space to display student work! It’s a fun way to see everyone’s progress and increase student ownership.

Likewise, while you don’t want a room devoid of color, bright colors and busy patterns can overstimulate students. To incorporate pops of color that aren’t distracting, try using one color for backgrounds and another for borders on every bulletin board in your room. Having a themed color set will tie the classroom together without overwhelming the eyes.

Want more ideas? Check out our Classroom Design Pinterest board for creative bulletin boards, organization tips, as well as this infographic on research-based best practices for classroom design.

Finally, don’t be afraid to change things up if something’s not working or if there’s a new idea you want to try. After all, classrooms are a space for learning!

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