The Standard Size of a Classroom

The Standard Size of a Classroom

From increasing student -teacher interactions to controlling the comfort level, classroom sizes can be a notable factor in contributing to school success. Although there is no standard requirement for constructing classrooms to a specific size, many schools and educational institutions follow general guidelines regarding dimensions in relation to the organization of a positive learning environment.

1 Size Matters

The overall size and design of a classroom, whether at the preschool, college, or in-between level, can seriously impact the student's ability to learn. Tiny, cramped areas provide little space for activities or for the students and teacher to move freely. They may easily become cluttered with school materials such as books and projects, causing students (or the teacher) to feel closed in. On the other hand, an overly large or spacious room may allow the students to spread out too much. This can cause a discontinuity in the learning community, making it difficult for the educator to facilitate peer to peer interactions, lectures, and group discussions.

2 Students Per Space

While it would be easy, and functional, to say that there is one set standard size for any classroom, this is an impossibility in the modern school system. Some smaller private schools may have rooms with a dozen or less children, while public schools with little funding may be overcrowded and have large numbers of students in each class. When considering the standard size of a classroom, it is best to break down necessary dimensions by student numbers. One study by the University of Georgia's School of Design and Planning Laboratory found that there is a minimum number of square footage per student required in elementary and secondary school classrooms. For example, 10 elementary school students require at least 539 square feet of space, while 15 students need 784 square feet. Although this is not a concrete standard, a guide such as this demonstrates how class and room size clearly tie together.

3 Considerations

There are a number of factors that any classroom designer must consider when standardizing for size. The first is the type of room necessary. Different classrooms fill different educational needs such as college level lecture or seminar rooms, preschool areas, elementary school spaces, secondary rooms, or vocational/technical sites. Each type of room will have its own standard or expected size based on functionality. For example, a college lecture hall will typically hold at least 100 students and should allow approximately 12 square feet per student chair or desk area. While considering size per seat, the standard classroom for each type of set up should also include appropriate space for media and technology, windows, places to write or test, and teacher/instructor areas and furniture (e.g., chair and desk).

4 Size of Students

Similar to square footage of classroom space per student, the size of the student in the actual room can significantly change the standard. A standard room for an elementary school class may look very different than that for a secondary school. This is primarily due to the obvious fact that a first grader and an eleventh grader differ widely in height and weight. Imagine a group of 20 seven-year-olds and another of 20 seventeen year-olds. These two classes clearly require varying degrees of space for movement and comfort level. According to the University of Georgia's School of Design and Planning Laboratory, the 20 elementary school children would need 1,029 square feet of classroom area, while the same number of secondary students require over 300 more square feet to total 1,344.

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.