Support your children to study with the right lighting
Every wondered how does your lighting affect learning environment for you and your children? Does your lighting support a healthy environment? Now that summer holidays are over and our children head back to the classroom and after the collective sigh of relief at regaining some ‘you’ time, it’s time to think about how to help your children get the best out of their study.
There is a huge amount of information out there on balancing study, healthy habits and ensuring physical activities, but not much on how the study environment effects success. It may not seem obvious, but lighting can have a significant impact on study outcome.
With 90% of all study being done indoors, having an area which is illuminated effectively with good light qualities is imperative. Before we delve right in and answer that big question – “how does lighting affect learning?”, let’s set the scene so you understand where we’re coming from.
The Technical Terms
Firstly, let’s talk about what are the qualities of a good light source…
1. Intensity – Also identified as Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) usually in a range from 3000K (warm/Yellow) to 6500K (cool/Blue)
2. Intensity – how bright the light source is. (luminaires generally state light output in Lumens but the effective light is the lumens per square metre on the work surface expressed as lux.
3. Colour Rendering Index (CRI)– the ability to recognize colours effectively. Most light fitting identify in a range 0-100 where 100 is equivalent of the colours you see in full daylight at midday. So, the higher the CRI the better.
4. Glare – the discomfort or distraction you get from either looking directly at a light source or its reflection off a surface.
5. Flicker – Most electric light sources Light fittings, TV’s, phones and tablets are flickering at 50 cycles per second (50Hz). (You can see the flicker by holding your mobile phone camera up to the light source). Its effect can be fatigue or eye irritation.
So… How does Lighting Affect Learning?
In order for students to maximize the time spent with their noses in books or staring at computer screens, it’s important to consider some simple lighting tips to avoid the fatigue and eye strain that can often occur with ineffective lighting for studying or reading.
Whilst all of the factors are important light colour and intensity has the greatest effect on our well being and ability to focus on task. We all have a natural reaction to light built into our lives which relates to the time of day, called our circadian rhythm. We associate warmer yellower light with sunrise and sun set and brighter bluer light at midday.
We naturally relax and loose focus as the day goes on and we get ready for sleep. So, to get the maximum focus and concentration cooler brighter lights are best in a study environment. similarly seeing “true” colours and not having distractions such as glare and flicker aids in maintaining focus and concentration.
However, we don’t all want to live in a sterile bright, white-light environment all the time or have to dedicate an area specifically for an activity. If study is in a bedroom, there will also be times you want your child to be able to relax.
Are the cooler brighter lights ideal?
So how do we control the characteristics of light?
- Installation* -Review the area you are considering and what you want to achieve. General illumination via ceiling/ wall mounted lights and consider task lighting via a desk lamp. Position where possible lights directly above work areas to avoid glare either direct or indirect via reflection.
- Luminaire selection* – look at the light characteristics of light Output
- Intensity/ Brightness is the easiest to control simply purchase a fitting which is dimmable. You get the added benefit of more energy saving as you dim.
- Colour of the light you desire (CCT) – can it be changed as usage demands?
- Is the Colour rendering good enough? Will it make me look ill (too much blue) or
- Is there Flicker? Ask to see the fitting in operation and check.
Do not forget comfort in any lighting installation is the most important issue and with LED Lighting, your choices may be with you for many years to come!