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Learning environment design takes students with special needs into consideration.

February 7, 2022. Written by Hannes Heinilä.

Every child is special, and everyone has some individual needs that need to be considered when designing the learning process. Knowing the students and understanding of the students’ overall needs help the educators to apply appropriate support measures to help every student to thrive. Properly designed support measures have far-reaching implications for a child's well-being and development.

In the schools, there is also an increasing number of children with some form of neuropsychiatric disorder. These neuropsychiatric disorders are developmental disorders of brain function that refer to the challenges in behavior, learning or motoric skills. In the school this may show as difficulty to regulate attention, emotions, or behavior and to control one’s own actions.

Learning environment is a powerful tool to support learning

Children with special needs should be taken into special account when designing school learning environments. By creating an effectively supporting environment for the student, we support the overall guidance of the activities, and also create predictability in everyday situations.

Acoustic management in a major role

There is a lot of sounds, even noise, in schools. The sound landscape of the school is to be evaluated carefully to find measures to reduce the level of sound especially in shared spaces. It would be ideal to create a spaces where sound is effectively absorbed, and that do not require the students to be quiet. The sound environment is influenced by the choice of surface materials and furniture. The upholstery of the seats, textile carpets and acoustic panels and other sound absorbing surface materials improve the acoustic properties of the space.

Managing visual stimulation in learning environment

The number of visual stimuli in the everyday life of children with neuropsychiatric disorders should be limited. With the suitable lighting, harmonious color scheme, and placing goods behind the cabinets we can control the number of stimuli in the leaning space. It is also good to have shades on the windows. Classrooms and other facilities are good equip with elements that enable students to withdraw from the excessive social and visual load.

Solution that is easy to apply in any space

The Nook learning den is an ideal solution for calming down and concentrating as it blocks both the visual and auditive stimuli effectively. In the sound-absorbing and sheltered space, students can be hide for a while in the middle of a noise. With the six felt elements, the Nook can easily be built by students themselves to any space. Nook can also be furnished as desired: with a table and chair for studying or for the lunch break, with an armchair for cozy reading or with a soft beanbag to chill out. The removable screens can be of great help, as partitions helps to block or reduce visual stimuli.

image nook blog 18

About the author

 Hannes Heinilä pic 2022

Hannes has long experience of working in elementary school first as a teacher and last as Principal. His ambition is to create innovative learning environments that serve both the pupils and the staff in the best possible way. As Head of Learning at ISKU, Hannes enjoys working and sharing ideas in a Professionally expert teams.