Is your speech room helping children focus? Or is it distracting them from learning because of the bright colors, fun patterns, and visuals everywhere?
Last year, I finally re-arranged my room. I made the students’ table face completely away from the window. Although I usually pull down the blinds, sometimes I forget and my students are completely enthralled with whatever is going on outside. It doesn’t help that noisy recess occurs just inches from my window, but I cannot, unfortunately, sound proof my room.
In addition, I started taking down many of the adorable signs, prompts, and visuals that I had downloaded from TPT. It was the beginning of making my room less distracting.
Students with attention difficulties have trouble staying on task in highly decorated rooms. A study by Fisher, Godman, and Selton (2014) states, “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.” This article by Psychological Science states that in the 2014 study, “…the rate of off-task behavior was higher in the decorated classroom (38.6% time spent off-task) than in the sparse classroom (28.4% time spent off-task).” Check out this 3 minute video from the researchers to learn more.
This does not mean that all decorations and displays should be removed, but rather that each visual should be carefully considered as to whether it enhances the learning of the student at that time. With this in mind, it is important to consider what your speech room looks like, and whether it can be arranged to help students focus.
1. Draw out your room to create a layout. Consider all the furniture. Do the students face the windows or other groups? Is the room safe? Do you need to get rid of any furniture?
2. Consider organizational items. Instead of throwing your supplies into random boxes and drawers, put them in labeled areas. Make them easy to access for adults and students. Consider putting your supplies into an organized and labeled set of clear drawers (from The Speech Bubble). Or, categorize your toys and put them into labeled bins.
3. Sketch out what will go on your walls. Be very intentional about what will go where in order to reduce distractions. I have decided that school/speech rules are on big posters on one wall. On another wall there are two sheets of paper. One shows what students can buy with their speech money. The other is a visual about how to describe, since many of my students are working on describing. You can get this describing prompts poster FREE in my resource library by subscribing here. On the closet doors, I have my Zones of Regulation visuals.
Less is more for many of our students. Keep the visual distractions down, and the engagement up! Click to Tweet!
Watch my Facebook Live video about this topic:
Comment below and tell me what your ideal speech room would look like?