Developmentally Appropriate Features in Student-Centred Classrooms

Rather than making all classrooms identically sterile for ease of administrative and janitorial staff, why not design and set them up to serve the needs of the students who will be learning within their walls? Classroom features can be differentiated for student-centred learning at different age levels.

Young adolescents want to be together in settings where they are accepted and enjoyed by others.
— Chris Stevenson


  1. Design for social interaction, which has been shown to enhance cognitive development
  2. Design for appropriate scale (giving priority to the youngest students who will use the classroom)
    • consider age(s) and size(s) of students
    • younger students need the most room (to move about in, respecting their need for physical/kinesthetic stimulation)
    • adapt space and furnishings to the scale of the students

  3. Consider different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) and multi-sensory teaching approaches
    • what will a classroom for students who learn by seeing, reading and watching look like? (building in lots of opportunities for displays and viewing is a priority)
    • what will a classroom for students who learn by talking, listening and hearing look like? (interactive set-up, appropriate acoustics, opportunities for music)
    • what will a classroom for students who learn by moving and touching look like? (room for kinesthetic learners to walk freely, to interact physically with their learning; furnishings and equipment that allow undistracting fidgeting)

  4. Include gender-friendly design features, or allow for gender-friendly classroom set up
    • boys tend to see in a narrow field of vision, girls in a wider field of vision; orient seating arrangements accordingly
    • boys tend to hear better with one ear than the other; ensure effective acoustics in the classroom
    • boys are more likely than girls to attach their learning to physical movement; design the classroom to allow ease of movement for those male students

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