Flinders has undergone a massive change over the past month…we have been painted! No longer do we enter lavender and lemon coloured houses! This has been a long time coming for the educators at Flinders and signals a significant change in thinking regarding children’s environments for learning.
Flinders has been lavender and lemon for over ten years. These colours were chosen for their believed benefits to children; colours that fostered calm in people based on principles of colour therapy. However, over the last ten years, thinking in this area has shifted dramatically, as one would expect.
Experts in early childhood environments now emphasise the importance of neutral colour schemes that compliment rather than compete with the inhabitants of the space. Because that’s the thing about early childhood environments; they are rarely seen empty. They are filled with children, educators, resources, sounds and light. They become quickly busy and full of documentation and art work. So if a space is brightly coloured when empty, it becomes overwhelmingly coloured when filled with people. This can increase levels of stress, anxiety and tension.
On the other hand, when a space is neutrally painted and furnished, the addition of children, educators, resources and documentation creates a balanced and interesting environment. The inhabitants of the space bring life and excitement to it; complimenting that environment rather than competing with it. This decreases the ‘busyness’ of the environment and creates space for children to be. The environment should be a blank canvas, only complete once the art has been added to it. We must consider the children, educators and resources the art, and not view the environment or it’s inhabitants in isolation. They must work together.
Of course, one change begets many. Our houses are now blank canvasses, ready to be thought and wondered about with refreshed enthusiasm. One educator recently mentioned to me; “You think all you need is for the building to be white. But then it is, and you see more possibilities!” And she is right! We now have an opportunity to rethink our environments, our displays, our use of colour, our furniture. We are looking at our houses with new eyes, seeing things differently and questioning things that have always been there. We are wondering, dreaming and imagining the possibilities.
Ah, the potential of a white-painted wall!