Kura can be an overwhelming place, especially for tamariki who struggle socially, have difficulty managing their emotions, or are working through a period of transition (i.e. new entrants, a new school year, tamariki who have changed schools, or those who are adjusting to changes at home).
Research shows that when people are uncomfortable, they’re easily distracted. Temperature, lighting and furnishings all play a role in creating physical comfort, but psychological comfort is just as important.
Many kaiako offer a calm space where tamariki can go if they are feeling anxious, upset, or need some space to relax. We are huge fans of having just such a place for tamariki to unwind and chill out.
Linda Lantieri, describes this concept brilliantly in her research, and this is a good description of the concept.
Tips for creating a calm space
It’s important that this area is communicated as a “peace corner” or “calm space” rather than a place to go when they misbehave or are disruptive.
Some great wellbeing spaces we’ve seen have included soothing colours, calming nature photos, cushions and blankets, indoor plants, sensory aids, and even a blanket fort!
Tamariki should be able to use this space when needed and you might like to quietly check in with them along the way, inviting them to rejoin the group as agreed/needed or when they’re feeling good.
To boost engagement, we’d suggest involving tamariki in the creation of this area, deciding how it will be used, and making sensory aids you can keep in this space (see our Sensory Kete, Smiley Stress Balls, and Glitter Timer activities).
Teachers have also provided us with some other awesome ideas for creating spaces that encourage the best possible comfort and learning.
- "I have tonnes of personally sourced second-hand books. It’s so satisfying seeing the kids get stuck in."
- "Every day we compliment someone from the class, they have to step out of the room while the rest of us create a compliment poster, then read it out to them when they come back in. Our compliment posters are on display for when they randomly want to compliment someone or need a boost."
- "I went from drab old and dusty wall coverings to new coloured hessian style fabric on my walls and borders and it made the space feel 100x more welcoming."
- "I've used my daughter's old canopy covered in leaves, glittered a blanket and looped it with fairy lights, brought in tree stumps from school tree felling, screwed lego flats to the wall and an old teepee and bean bags when quiet moments are needed."
- "I incorporate lots of singing, imaginative play and outside play during class time. And, I use games to practice learning objectives."
- "They love seeing their work on the walls. That makes it their space immediately."
- "Give students responsibilities within the classroom. This gives a sense of 'home' and pride for their classroom environment"
- "Add a question of the day on the board. Tamariki love working out the answer or thinking through their response."
- "Encourage friendships. Allow tamariki to bring their favourite toys and books for me to read to the class."
- "I allow time for tamariki to explore and ask questions. It helps tamariki feel valued and important. I make sure the classroom space belongs to everyone."
If you've got more ideas, we'd love to hear them.