Elementary classrooms just don’t decorate themselves. A high school or college classroom can get by with nary a decoration, poster, or anything but a paint color. But placing the right amount of educational decor on elementary classroom walls is an art form. This is something that most parents and students overlook when teachers spend days before the school year actually begins putting together their version of the perfect classroom. The trouble is that there was not an education class in college that demonstrated how to properly decorate the classroom for the betterment of the students.
Unfortunately, not all educators should be home decorators or designers. If you ever wanted to see what a teacher’s home would look like, just take a look at how they decorated their classroom. As a teaching professional, you must put aside personal preference and figure out what is best for your students and not just hang up the decor that you like the most. This is what it all boils down to. Will the way you decorate the classroom help your students throughout the school year?
Use Other Classrooms as Inspiration
If you aren’t sure where to start, do a couple of quick searches online of classroom design and decorations to gather ideas on what could work for your grade level. Then you can simply print these pictures out and use them as inspiration for what you want to accomplish. If you would still like a few more ideas, just go visit the other classrooms at your school. You can then pick and choose what you like and what you don’t like when figuring out what works best for you and your students.
Keep It to the Basic Essentials
Have you ever heard the saying that less is more? This means that a minimalist approach actually works better than overdoing it. Having just the essentials instead of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks will have students realizing what is important to know and what is not. Students need to focus on what matters and this is tough to do when all of your classroom walls have about 30 laminated posters hanging on them.
So what are the basic essentials for an elementary classroom? It depends on the grade level. For instance, a first-grade classroom may have examples on the walls of addition and subtraction problems, Fry’s instant sight words, how to write a complete sentence, and things of that nature. A fourth-grade classroom could be decorated with a poster about long multiplication and division, a few things covered in History during the school year, and how to construct a one-page essay among other things. The decor on your walls should correspond directly with what you are teaching during the school year.
Don’t Overdo It
There have been classrooms I have entered that have been so busy with education decorations that there was not a free spot on the wall left. My eyes couldn’t focus on any one thing as I could not differentiate between what was important and what was used as just a filler. I’m very fortunate that all the bright colors and the wind chimes (yes, for some reason one of these classrooms had wind chimes all around) did not drive me into having a seizure. If you can’t look around your classroom and figure out what the paint color is on the wall, you might want to cut back about 70 percent on the decorations.
Don’t Forget the Inspirational Quotes and Classroom Rules
Besides the educational material that corresponds with your lessons, make sure you have the proper inspirational quotes and classroom rules hanging on your walls. Your students will constantly be reading what is on the classroom walls as long as there is not a sensory overload. This means that they will repeatedly be memorizing the classroom rules and the inspirational quotes that may guide them through some tough times in life.
Ask for Reimbursement from Administration
If you had to spend some money to get the right posters and other decorations for your classroom, it would not hurt to keep the receipts and ask administration if any reimbursement is possible. They may surprise you and agree to it if you can prove to them why your classroom needed the makeover. If they choose not to reimburse you and you have to pay for it all on your own, at least you will have decorations that you can use year after year without it having to cost you any more money.
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