The Psychology of Color: Children and Color

As a part of most professional Interior Designer’s training, there is an emphasis on color; everything from the Munssel Color System to how to use and pair color and patterns effectively to create a visually pleasing space. As a result, I almost graduated with a double major in Art Studies. Color is all around us. Literally! It surrounds us every day. Whether we realize it or not, color has a great impact on our everyday lives and our overall well-being. Color in spaces can lift our moods, give us a sense of peace, and improve our memory. Color can also make us depressed, cause anxiety, and impact our health. The ‘Psychology of Color’ is very real. Companies use color all the time to influence consumers to buy their products. Hospitals use color to help calm patients and promote healing. Some work places use color as a way to increase employee productivity. With all that in mind, shouldn't schools be using color to promote the well-being, behavior, and the learning of their students?


Designing for educational institutions can be extremely challenging. The goal is to create a space where students will thrive in every aspect, whether it is learning, social interactions, fine arts, or sports. One huge part of being able to create a healthy space in an educational environment is to ensure that the colors used are able to enhance a child's learning. Another factor to consider is the likelihood that within a single class there could be multiple children with various learning needs that can be impacted by color. For example, children with Austism Spectrum Disorder can react to color a number of different ways. Some children can become overstimulated by rooms with too much color on the walls, while others need a room with multiple, bright colors to be stimulated.


Today, we are finding more educators requesting that cooler hues such as blues and greens, being used in classrooms because of a noticeable difference in their students’ performance and behavior. For years, the thought was that bright primary colors were great for younger children’s learning. While learning about color is important, using large amounts of bright primary colors, especially red, can actually hinder the learning in the classroom. For example, the color red was quite popular in the early 2000’s. It is the color of passion and excitement; however, children in rooms with bright, bold reds can become over stimulated. On the other hand, colors such as blue, purple, and green can have the opposite effect on children. Rooms with accents of cooler hues can help children feel more relaxed and calm, which has shown to help with behavioral issues and improves learning overall.

Color sounds like such a simple thing. It is amazing to think how one simple idea such as color can have such a vast impact on our everyday lives and the learning of today’s youth.