Family photos? Check.
Open and trusting body language? Check.
No more crying kids?
Umm, not quite there yet.
Maybe at this point you feel like you are ready to cry. It’s alright. This is one area where we don’t want to rush anything.
Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? If we don’t feel safe and secure, there is no way we can get to the higher levels of thinking.
While you may want to jump right into getttin’ yo’ teach on, you will thank yourself in the long-run if you take a few days at the start of the year to get everyone’s heads on straight. And that includes your own.
Funny enough, you have to master your emotions in this chaotic and emotional environment. You have to delay gratification by putting in the tough emotional work before you can teach. Building trust isn’t easy but if you combine all of these strategies, it will happen quickly and you can be started on your lessons by the start of Week #2. Sound good?
Great. Now, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and offer your teary-eyed student your hand. We are going to a safe place.
Creating a Classroom Safe Space
When I first started teaching, a Safe Space was simply a place you felt safe. Now, it’s taken on an entirely new meaning with college-students requesting Safe Spaces in their lecture halls. We certainly want to raise more resilient kids than that lot, so the safe space shouldn’t be a place to hide or avoid problems. For this reason, I refer to the safe space as a “Calm Corner” or “Comfort Corner.” I also like using the word calm because it associates a state of mind that is in your control. Regardless, you can call it whatever you like.
The point? You need an area in your classroom where children feel safe, calm, and comfortable.
Like we talked about yesterday, learning is an emotional experience just as much as a logical one. Especially with little kids, they need to experience new concepts in all kinds of different ways.They need to see it, feel it, hear it, touch it, dance it, sing it, etc. Again, learning to control your feelings is no different.
The Calm Corner should provide familiar objects, soothing sights and sounds, and a safe, quiet place for kids to regain control of their own emotions.
So what does that look like?
Setting Up The Calm Corner
Be intentional in developing your safe space area. What colors and shades are associated with calmness? According to the experts, Lavender, Soft Gray, Cool Blue, Gray-Blue, Coral, Pale Pink, Mauve, Beige, Deep Blue, and Sage Green are all super calming and stress-reducing colors. Which one do you like the best?
Once you have your colors chosen, now it’s time to pick the style of your Calm Corner. Do you want a draping tee-pee sitting area? Would you rather have a safe cubbie spot where kids can crawl inside? Do you want to use a mattress, couch, or bean bag that hides behind a curtain? Or maybe a cozy tent works for you?
This will all depend on the size of your classroom and how much space you have available for your Calm Corner. The library is always a safe bet. If you have room somewhere else, that works too. No matter where it goes, it’s important to include some cozy and cushioned furniture, pillows, blankets, and some way for the area to be closed-off from the rest of the room,
Here are some examples of different safe spaces that you can make your own:
Couches and Hammock Sitting Area
Cozy Corner Tent
Filing Cabinet Nooks
Cushions on the Ground
Draped Group Calm Corner
Draped Single Calm Corner
A Few More Ideas
Now that you have lots of examples, you can decide your color scheme and your Calm Corner set-up. Is that all?
Almost. Now it’s time for the finishing touches.
Look at some of these examples. What do you notice? Are there some extra tools that you see that help kids stay calm?
You’ve already done a great job creating a cozy place with soothing colors. Can we add some soothing sounds? Some relaxing decor? Some stuffed animals for kids to cuddle, squeeze, and hug?
Let’s get all the senses working towards a peaceful mind! You can do that by adding:
- Calming classical music or nature sounds
- Plastic plants for decor
- Stuffed animals
- Emotion posters (or emoji pillows) and a mirror to help identify feelings
- Problem-solving wheel with choices for solutions
- Books and favorite toys
- Family photos
What else can you think of? Drop a line in the comments!
Now you have all the tools to build a perfect Calm Corner (or Safe Space if that’s what you prefer).
Tune in tomorrow and we will wrap up our final tips for curing those First-Day-of-School Blues!