Examine any four factors to consider when creating a physical learning environment.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The physical learning environment plays a more important role in education than many people realize, and this is a shame. More time and energy should be put into its creation. Four factors that should play a part its formation are safety, convenience, stimulation, and quiet.

Safety should be the first concern in a learning environment. For very young children, this is particularly important.  For example, special scissors that are more blunt are available for kindergarten and the early grades.  The classroom should be arranged so that there are no obstacles for students to trip over, with wide, clear aisles for them to move about. There should be no toxic materials, particularly for the early grades, since young children are prone to put all sorts of things into their mouths.  Sadly, in today's world, there should probably be a means of locking the door to protect students from an intruder.

Convenience for teacher and students is important. Are materials and supplies easily retrievable and arranged in a way that makes it simple to tidy up?  Are desks or tables adequate to hold what the students need?  Does the teacher have space for everything he or she needs for the day? Is it easy for students to work together in small groups, without having to rearrange furniture too much? The more conveniently the classroom and its furnishings are arranged, the easier it is to maintain a good learning environment.

Stimulation in the classroom is important. Some bright colors, some interesting objects, some bulletin boards, and art on the walls, all contribute to a classroom in which students want to be.  Perhaps some music playing from time to time can contribute to a stimulating environment.  A bland classroom is a boring classroom.

On the other hand, some quiet in the classroom can be important, too. Some students are overwhelmed by too much stimulation and do well with a space for retreat, if it is possible to provide this.  Certainly, in general, a classroom should be somewhat insulated from what goes on in the halls, since this is distracting and disruptive to learning.  

These are just a few of the considerations when planning the physical space for learning, and it would be wonderful if more attention were given to this. 

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