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 equally important.
School can be an overwhelming place, especially for students who struggle socially, have difficulty regulating their emotions or are working through a period of transition (i.e. new entrants, transferring students, or children who are adjusting to changes at home).
We would suggest creating a calm space in your classroom where students can go if they are feeling anxious, upset or need some time to relax or cool off and self-regulate.
Peace educator Linda Lantieri, describes this concept brilliantly on page three of her article: Nurturing Inner Calm in Children (see ‘Create a Peace Corner’).
It’s important that this area is communicated as a “peace corner” or “calm space” rather than a place children 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 teepee!
Students should be able to use this space when needed and you might like to quietly check in with them, acknowledging their efforts to find calm. They can rejoin the group as agreed/needed or when they’re feeling good.
To boost engagement, we’d suggest involving students 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 Shaker activities).
Teachers have also provided us with some other ideas to create great spaces to encourage the best possible comfort and learning for tamariki -
- 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 and then read it out to them when they come back in. We have the All Right? 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 children 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. Children love working out the answer or thinking through their response.
- Encourage friendships. Allow children to bring their favourite toys and books for me to read to the class.
- I make time for and allow opportunities for the children to explore and ask questions. It helps children 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. Go to 'Get in Touch' and do just that!