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  • Melanie Patric

PSA: An Argument for Simplicity

Bright, bold, colorful posters, signs, decorations, and artwork adorning the walls of daycare centers and home daycares alike are often thought of as a hallmark of fun, engaging programs, but what if all that screaming color comes at the price of your child's focused attention?

My experience in daycare has shown me that there's something to be said for keeping the children's learning areas visually calm. Natural light, soothing colors, natural materials, and largely unadorned walls allow childrens eyes to find a natural resting spot. Being mindful of simplicity ensures that the children can look around the room and instead of finding constant distraction, they can zero in on one item that is of particular interest and attend that item deeply.

A recent article by Jan Hoffman featured in the New York Times titled "Rethinking the Colorful Kindergarten Classroom" suggests that children taught in a highly decorated, colorful (and perhaps visually jarring) environment are more likely to have wandering gazes, slide off-task, and even have lower test scores. While there is no conclusive proof, studies on the subject have certainly caused educators to second-guess the value of having a crowded, visually packed classroom environment.

Here at Blue Sky Daycare, instead of the typical cartoon-and-rainbow festooned walls, colorful cubbies, and such, toys are kept in baskets made of natural materials. Artwork is child-generated and chosen to be visually appealing and meaningful. I rotate toys through the months, weeks, and seasons so that our space is not overcrowded, and I choose toys that are made of natural materials as often as possible. I choose to honor the spirit of simplicity in hopes of fostering long attention spans, deep play, and an inner asthetic in children. In a world of "more, more, more," sometimes, it turns out, less is more.

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