Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Reducing Visual Distractions

For many children, visual distractions can be a huge problem!  Some children have a great deal of difficulty focusing on the "big picture" and notice (and are distracted by) every small visual item around them.  This has been an issue we deal with quite often in our classroom.  Visual distractions can include items placed on walls, general classroom clutter or even small toys or items placed on tables or floors! 

While it is unrealistic to expect to be able to eliminate visual distractions completely from a room, there are certainly things you can do to make backgrounds less distracting; especially backgrounds where children will place items to focus and work on or group areas where you may want the children to focus on a book or other item. 


One big problem in my classroom was this large, multi-colored and multi-patterned carpet that took up a large area of the classroom (Believe me, I didn't pick this out...it was here long before I taught in this room!).  The carpet on the floor in this area was so highly distracting that it often became confusing for children to build with blocks on this carpet or even to focus on a story being read.  Since this area served multiple purposes:  both as a group time area and the block area, we really needed a carpet that was neutral and easy on the eyes!


Above is our new dark blue carpet on the floor!  (It really is blue- the lights were out, so it's a bit difficult to see).   Just look at how much easier on the eyes it is and how much easier it is to focus on the dry erase board and....well, just about anything in this area!  We took away the needless and highly distracting visual patterns and colors on the floor. 

I know many teachers prefer a carpet with spaces or pictures to indicate where each child should sit.  If you do feel you need this, I would just suggest large, solid items on the carpet rather than the multiple patterns and colors on our original carpet! 

Personally, though, I would consider a neutral colored carpet in the group time area.  You can then add carpet squares during group times to indicate where each child should sit (we just store ours in the basket above when they're not in use).  By going with a neutral color, you not only are giving the children a neutral background to view items on, but you are also making such a big difference in the overall look and feel of the whole space! 

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