Development // How the use of colour can affect learning

colour and learningOften, focus is trained on what goes into and what goes on inside classrooms rather than the classrooms themselves. That’s entirely understandable. Content wins over style, of course. But taking the time to assess how the school environment affects the students who learn within its walls can reap dividends when it comes to improving student performance.

Different colours affect students in different ways, so if you get the chance to request a new colour scheme for your classroom, it will really pay to carefully consider who you’ll be teaching. Alternatively, there are some shortcuts you can take to alter the colour of your classroom without going for a full-scale makeover. Coloured panels can transform the look of your teaching space, and you can chop and change depending on the class you teach.

Here’s how colour can make a difference to the way children learn.

Information sticks

Children hold onto information more effectively when colours are used in learning resources and within the classroom. Since four fifths of the information the brain absorbs is visual, the use of colour means highly increased mental stimulation and better powers of concentration. Colour is more memorable than verbal cues to young children. Combining flashcards with strong background colours will help young children retain and recall information.

Colour means creativity.

Want to inspire new ideas? Splashes of any colour will help get children’s creative synapses firing. And it’s not just art lessons that will be boosted. Story writing and problem solving are among the activities that can also be aided by the clever use of colour.

Different colour schemes elicit different responses.

Who are you going to be teaching in your classroom? Consider what the needs are of your pupils and colour accordingly. Warm colours like reds, oranges and yellows should probably be avoided in a learning environment since they can be overstimulating. Reds can be great highlights, especially in areas of the room where concentration is required. Red chairs or carpet in a reading corner can be very effective and will also add warmth to the room without overwhelming it.

Since yellow is such a happy tone, it works particularly well in areas where sociable behaviour and collaboration occur. It helps the brain think a little more quickly since it stimulates the visual sense, so imagination and creativity are boosted in art spaces in which it is used.

Cooler colours such as greens, blues and purples invoke the same feelings of happiness but in a less intense way. Blue produces chemicals that calm the brain and encourage deep concentration, making it an ideal tone for rooms where those with special needs are taught or where extended focus is required – the science lab, for instance.

As children move through the different stages of their education, the colours around them should change to keep up with their needs. Early Years Foundation Stage children should be surrounded by calming main colours with bright, primary coloured accents. Areas where different activities occur can be colour-coded, too. As children get older, the colours around them should cool, helping them to relax and concentrate on more demanding tasks.

There’s a quick reference sheet over at E-Learning Heroes’ website, while a detailed look at colour and memory performance can be found at

*Collaborative post.*

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