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Comfort in the classroom

The classroom is home to children and teachers for a good part of the day. It should therefore be attractive and functional, and should provide a feeling of well-being.

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The ambience in schools and classrooms is far more complex than might appear at first sight. Most of us are aware of the impact of air temperature and humidity on well-being, which is why we use thermometers and hygrometers. But there are other important comfort factors, including clothing, air velocity, activity level, natural and electric lighting, acoustics and noise. These factors can all affect the productivity of children in the classroom. Providing a comfortable environment for children contributes significantly to optimum performance and reduced absenteeism.

Classroom conditions

The lighting and temperature in a classroom will affect students’ level of achievement. Both should be conducive to learning. Some students need more light than others; while some may prefer it be warmer or cooler than others. Such things have to be worked out by compromise — and sometimes with the help of a few sweaters!

In general, the room temperature should be moderate to cool. Warm classrooms tend to make students inattentive or even sleepy, leading them to become bored and disruptive. A fan can help to maintain a good flow of air and keep the room cool. If the room has windows that open, check that they can be opened when needed. Outdoor air can be a bonus for several months of the year.

Crowdedness has been associated with increased levels of CO2PM10 and benzene in classrooms, as well as with a higher prevalence of a variety of symptoms.

Poor natural ventilation during teaching hours has been associated with increased levels of CO2 and formaldehyde in classrooms and with the increased prevalence of chronic bronchitis and asthma symptoms.

A decreased prevalence of chronic bronchitis has been found among children using classrooms equipped with air conditioners.