December 8, 2023

While it may be tempting to make your classroom look pretty, colorful, or “cute,” it’s not always in the students’ best interest. Read on for tips on how to make your classroom an effective learning environment and what to avoid.

Classroom Decoration Blog Post Cover Image

why choosing classroom decorations matters in special ed

Decorations may seem pointless, but they can significantly affect classroom management. Your choices will make self-regulation easier or harder. Classroom decor has an impact on all students, but more so in special education programs. Here’s why:

  • Students tend to struggle more with self-regulation and impulsivity
  • Disruptive behavior is more common in special education programs
  • We have many students with sensory dysregulation that can be bothered by visual strain
  • Our choices can help students organize themselves and be more independent

trends to avoid to improve classroom management

Here’s a list of trends you should avoid or at least think about before using them.

  • Covering walls and bulletin boards with neon colors
  • Decorated with patterns
  • Open storage areas that allow students to “explore” materials
  • Covering most of the wall space with posters, decorations or anchor charts

A list of classroom decorations primarily contributes to visual busyness and challenges classroom management techniques. Limiting visual distractions will improve behavior. Think about how you feel in busy or crowded places versus quiet, organized spaces.

We want to create a foundation that puts students in the right position to be successful in school.

Pause the classroom decoration before trying it out

While these decorating ideas can make good spaces for our students, you need to stop and think about how to make it work well with your students. Before you use these ideas in your classroom, create a plan for how you will train your students to use these areas well.

  • Lamps: can be great for students who dislike fluorescent lighting. Click here read about different classroom lighting ideas.
  • Grid: can be a good way to create boundaries or gaps while allowing you to see all students
  • Tents: can be great for students who need privacy, a place to take a break, etc.

When creating a student training plan, think about how and when students can use the space, whether it will always be available, and what happens if it falls over or tears. Be sure to cover all of these points with your students if you go ahead with any of these classroom decoration ideas.

decor that works in special education

Here is a list of classroom decor ideas that work well in special education programs and don’t interfere with classroom management.

  • Use solid colors when choosing backgrounds for wall boards, storage covers, rugs, etc.
  • Laminated and durable materials that will not be destroyed by destructive behavior
  • Solid color storage containers instead of transparent bins
an image of transparent compartments with colored objects inside and the same compartments printed in green
  • Visual aids that help students to be more independent
  • Limiting or containing clutter
  • Color-coded areas for building independence
  • An open space on the walls that feels airy

Want to see the things we use in the classroom? Check out our Amazon Shop.

areas of personal space

If you want more personal items or decoration, arrange it so that only you can see it. Try to place it in a small area rather than spreading it around the class.

Our choice of classroom decor as teachers and therapists can have a huge impact on students and their ability to self-regulate and sustain learning.

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Want more information about classroom design and management? Try these posts:

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