Learning environments

There are many factors that affect children’s behaviour in primary classrooms. The most significant of these are, the activities being undertaken, people involved, learning spaces and time. When these factors work together there is a greater chance of positive learning experiences. If one of these factors does not fit with the others then it can trigger problems that constrain learning opportunities.


The nature of activities for children to undertake can make a significant difference on their behaviour. Highly focused teacher-directed activities can ensure children are focused and easily monitored. More open-ended creative work will mean greater autonomy but at the expense of making the management of individuals tricky.
The number of people involved in working on an activity can also be a factor affecting behaviour. Ability groups working on differentiated tasks will mean that the activities are likely to be more appropriate and engaging. Working in larger groups, however, can mean that some children become isolated or wander ‘off-task’.
The space within which children work on activities will be another significant factor in shaping their behaviour and subsequent learning of skills and knowledge. Quiet calm corridor space might be appropriate for one-to-one work with the TA. For a mental maths starter, however, the carpet space in a classroom will be more appropriate where children sit as a whole class and can help each other.
Times and timing
The duration of an activity is also another factor in managing children’s learning. How long a task will take can determine the level of concentration and highlight the need for reinforcement along the way. At what time at the activity is undertaken during the school day, is also a consideration with varying levels of concentration at the beginning middle and end.