Visual Stimuli in the Classroom

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 Take a minute and imagine a setting that relaxes you, not to the point of putting you to sleep, but a setting that brings about a feeling of peace and calmness.  You can breathe easier.  In this setting all of the jumbled thoughts in your head have order to them.  There is no stress.  Any task seems possible here.  The setting brings about confidence.  You feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.

My Setting:
I'm on an island.  Not just any island.  Grindstone Island.  I'm surrounded by nature.  The rocky bank meets the small rippling waves.  The continual flow of the river goes uninterrupted, with variations occurring only as wakes from vessels come to shore.  Now and then a boat passes, too far out to identify passengers.  If I'm lucky, I can see a ship passing through the channel.
Bulldozer with his hand around Princess two years ago.
The sun glistens on the water, making the ripples in the waves sparkle.  Ducks fly overhead in a formation.  Not a cloud in the sky can be seen.

The trees are full of green.  A bird's nest is visible in one of the branches. I can just make out the beaks of three baby robins waiting for their mother to return.  As I go further inward, towards the old dirt road, I pass fresh red raspberries in bunches, ready to pick.

It may not occur to us that our learning environment can be significantly affected, for better or worse, by the visual stimuli in our classroom.  Dinomite can learn anything when presented visually. Yet he can become easily overwhelmed if his environment is visually overstimulating.  Bulldozer craves visual stimulation in a big way.  He needs visuals with all learning activities, however they can hinder his learning process.  If he becomes too focused on the visuals, he can't accomplish the tasks.  Bulldozer can not focus if he is in a room with other visual distractions.  Timers of any kind do not exist in our classroom because of him.  Princess is very sensitive to light.  When outside, she must always wear glasses.  Even when inside all curtains are usually closed.  Bright lights make it impossible for her to learn.
Bulldozer fulfilling a need for visual input in a safe way.
How can you make your classroom setting and presentation visually pleasing to your child?

1.  Lighting:  Does your child prefer natural, florescent, or dimmed lighting while working?

2.  Wall Color & Decor:  Does your child behave and perform better in a room with many pictures and/or other visual stimuli?  Or does your child prefer minimal wall decor?
Our Classroom Area
I am a big fan of the language of color, and truly believe that the colors of a room can have a direct effect on a person's mood and abilities.

In Better Homes and Gardens New Decorating Book the language of colors is explained as follows:

Pink:  Soothes, acquiesces; promotes affability and affection.
Yellow:  Expands, cheers; increases energy.
White: Purifies, energizes, unifies; in combination, enlivens all other colors.
Black:  Disciplines, authorizes, strengthens; encourages independence.
Orange:  Cheers, commands, stimulates appetites, conversation, and charity.
Red: Empowers, stimulates, dramatizes, competes; symbolizes passion.
Green: Balances, normalizes, refreshes; encourages emotional growth.
Purple:  Comforts, spiritualizes; creates mystery and draws out intuition.
Blue:  Relaxes, refreshes, cools; produces tranquil feelings and peaceful moods.

3.  Cleanliness:  Does your child learn best in a room with clutter and mess?  Perhaps your child prefers a very clean and tidy work environment?

4.  Position of Work Space:  Where does your child work best in the classroom? Is it by a window?  Perhaps that's too much of a distraction?  There are some kiddos who always need to be able to see their instructor.  Others prefer facing an empty wall with no visual distractions.

5.  Lesson Presentation:  How does your child prefer to receive directions?  Orally?  Written in words?  Displayed in pictures?  Visuals with a tactile (touch) component?  Does your child learn through watching different types of media?  Are your materials presented in and organized way?  Does your child prefer small visuals or need larger ones?  Is your child flexible with the way materials are presented, or must they be lined up in a certain way or in a certain color?  Does your child crave visual stimuli? If so, how will you meet these needs during the course of lessons, work, etc.?
Dinomite chose to do this activity over and over again because of the dessert pictures on each card.  Otherwise he wouldn't have touched it.
6.  Visual Timers:  Does your child benefit from a visual timer?  Would the visual timer help your child accomplish tasks and/or focus better?  Or would it hinder them in their work?  Perhaps they become too obsessed with time, or use the timer as an excuse to not complete work in front of them?

In our home, I've found it crucial to pay attention to the visual stimuli in our classroom. It can literally make or break a day.  I challenge you to examine your child, observe when they perform at their best. Try to adapt the visual stimuli in the classroom to meet their needs.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes.  Always remember every child is different. What works for one, may not work for another.

How do you make your classroom visually pleasing for your child?

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5 comments:

  1. Thank you for the comment over at The Mad House. I can not imagine how hard it is to settle 4 children each with their own needs. Consistency has always been the key for us

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  2. I agree with Jen. I'm truly impressed at how acutely aware of your children's unique needs you are. I love that you've taken such care to customize the learning experience. Thanks for sharing at the After School Linky Party!

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  3. Great ideas for the classroom. We use timers, it helps greatly.
    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

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  4. Great suggestions, Renae! I'm always amazed at your ability to meet each of your children's needs. I added your post and photo to my Montessori-Inspired Special Needs Support post at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/03/13/montessori-inspired-special-needs-support/

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  5. I LOVE how beautiful and tidy your classroom looks!

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