In Education, Environment Matters

Parents are surprised when they visit the Stafford Campus of Fredericksburg Christian School for the first time–it has a bright and airy environment, attractive classrooms, and inviting hallways.

They’ve driven by so many times and have seen the large Stafford Campus signage, just off the corner of Shelton Shop and Route 610. But it’s not until they walk inside and receive a warm greeting from the staff that they realize that something special is going on. The learning environment reflects this same warmth.

It’s not as if they thought it would be dark or out of date, but most parents haven’t seen many schools that escape the fate of deferred maintenance and compounding wear and tear. When your maintenance funding comes from a bond that’s up for public vote,  or a state budget that changes from year to year, it’s no wonder that maintenance–and the learning environment it supports–can suffer. That’s not what you find at the Stafford Campus.

I came in and it was wonderful, the rooms were bright and clean. They greeted me in the office, gave me a tour, tripping over themselves to be helpful and friendly. Kids in the school were respectful. I volunteer in the public school and I see the difference.
– Current Stafford Parent

The campus environment at Stafford, and other FCS locations, is an extension of the learning experience. Energetic, safe, and encouraging: the kinds of words you’d like to use when describing a second-home for your children. In work settings, we call it the “corporate culture.” In education, this is the “learning environment” and it starts with walls, floors, desks … and how those things express the philosophy and spirit of a place.

An effective learning environment fosters a “learning culture” that models self respect, respect for others, and a desire to learn and grow. When a learning environment is done well, you can see that it influences the way children learn. They respond to whatever culture they are placed within. If it’s positive, orderly, and forward-looking, they respond by acting and thinking in ways that match.

In understanding the link between how schools are maintained and cared for, Ken Graetz–author of The Psychology of Learning Environments–shares just how important this can be. He says, “the physical characteristics of learning environments can affect learners emotionally, with important cognitive and behavioral consequences.” We understand this reality in our homes or in the restaurants that we frequent–well designed and maintained spaces encourage a positive frame of mind.

For parents, it’s something more important than a psychology book–it’s about raising children to face life with a confident and inquisitive spirit. Kids learn this in many ways, including from their surroundings. You’re invited to experience this for yourself by scheduling a visit.