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Light in parenting and gardening

Many of the parents around me are getting ready for the long break – and they’re all worrying about where their kids are going next year. So here is a round up of some articles about parenting and what we know about the way that lighting in the classroom can help. It’s probably not something that will come up at the school gates – there are certainly enough other things to worry about. But given the growing evidence that it can really help students, particularly those with special educational needs.

Dynamic classroom lighting as a teaching tool

This rare real life study points to the immense potential – and practical difficulties – of dynamic lighting for the classroom. The need to bring teachers into the project at the outset to design scenarios with and for them – and go back to make sure it is really working for them is key. But the benefits are clear too. To quote one teacher…’ A lot of the improvement results in a teaching that becomes more dynamic and is not uniform and boring for the children.’ – Dynamic Lighting in Classrooms: A New Interactive Tool for Teaching

Lighting helps them learn

This review summarises current understanding of the impact of light including daylight on a range of measures, from attendance to reading speed and eye strain. It’s not a one size fits all – for example, direct daylight views can impair performance for students receiving free and reduced lunches which has been linked to difficulties with concentration suggesting that demographics also need to play a role in classroom design. – The Effects of the Visual Environment on K-12 Student Achievement

Universal Design for Learning – better for all

Professor Nicola Martin, who will be speaking at the NASEN conference, makes the point that there is no such person as a mythical ‘norm’ – everyone is different and everyone belongs.

And some practical tips with Sue Atkins

Disney parenting expert Sue Atkins is a ‘go to’ for millions of mums and dads around the world because of her down to earth and upbeat wisdom. She recently released her wonderful ‘Parentverse’ interviews as free to view, covering everything from transitioning from primary to secondary school to smacking and pocket money. I am proud to have been one of her guests talking about light and kids’ brains. Link to my interview is here. And link to the series is here.

And as usual a couple of other ‘lighter’ articles that you might enjoy – 

Garden lighting is harming wildlife…

This sobering article points out how light pollution from garden lights and security lights is harming the insects and animals that help to keep our green spaces so rich and beautiful. – Garden lighting: effects on wildlife

Some simple tips: 

1/ Position lights as low as possible and aim them downwards or to where they’re needed. When angling lights make sure you think about how it impacts on your neighbours too (such as not glaring right into their windows) and always position them considerately 

2/ Fit hoods over the light to reduce light pollution of the night sky 

3/ Turn garden lights off when not in use or use PIR motion sensors or timers for essential or security lighting so they only come on when absolutely necessary 

4/ Choose low-intensity lighting and warmer hues (warm white, yellow or amber): solar lighting is cheap, safe and emits a dull glow suitable for garden use 

5/ Encourage local councils to adopt switch-off schemes for street lighting: even part-night lighting instead of full-night lighting has been found to reduce negative impact on the behaviour of moths

And how light can make your tomatoes tastier…

The wavelengths in the light source affects the taste of the food you grow… – How light affects taste

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