Imagine being tired, angry, sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed at work. Now imagine your boss, supervisor, or colleague reminding you there’s a soft place you can go relax for a bit and calm your nervous system. Wouldn’t it be great to escape the chaos of the workplace and just chill out by yourself?
That’s exactly what a cozy area or calming corner is for young children! When a child feels overwhelmed by activities, interactions with others, or just wants to take some time to themself, a calm and cozy area is just what they need.
The Difference Between Calming Corner or Cozy Areas and Time-Outs
Let’s be very clear; a calming corner or cozy area is NOT time-out. It is positive place, not a punishment. It’s a space for children to have alone time, relax, and escape the difficulties of the classroom. Make sure all children and staff understand the purpose of the calm or cozy corner and be sure it is used as a positive space. The goal is for children to learn that calming and regulating their emotions is a positive and proactive experience, not a punishment.
The Calming Kit
The Discovery Source Calming Kit is packed full of items you can include in your cozy corner! From wall posters to calming cards and breathing boards, it comes in a handy backpack so you can move tools around as needed. We recommend a Calming Kit indoors and also one to take outside!
Calm Spaces Outdoors
Speaking of outside – choose a spot outdoors to be a calm and cozy space for children to retreat to when they need it. Add yoga mats, cards with yoga poses, soft stuffed animals and fidget toys to aid children in identifying and processing emotions. Knowing there’s a place to go to get away from the yelling, running, and sometimes overstimulating outdoor play environment can help children tremendously!
Have you heard of Meddy Teddy?
Meddy Teddy is a fun, interactive, soft and cuddly way to experience yoga, meditation and mindfulness in the classroom. It is a role model and compassionate buddy for young ones, helping them lead healthier, more mindful lives. The sweet stuffed bear bends into lots of yoga positions and is a great addition to a calming corner or cozy area!
13 Considerations for a Calm Corner or Cozy Area
Calm spaces in an early childhood classroom are essential for providing children with a comfortable and soothing environment where they can relax, regroup, and manage their emotions.
Each of these elements is important to consider when creating relaxing, cozy, and safe spaces.
1. Soft Seating
Provide soft and comfortable seating options such as bean bags, cushions, child-sized soft couches and chairs, or floor mats. Children should be able to sit or lie down comfortably while they take a break.
2. Quiet Area
Set up a cozy area in a place that is quiet. Next to busy, loud centers like blocks, dramatic play, or musical instruments are not the best spots because they can be overstimulating. Choose a quiet place where children have their own space to work on calming strategies.
3. Nature-Inspired Decor
Use nature-inspired decorations such as muted tones, nature-themed wall art, and images of serene outdoor places. This can have a calming effect on young children.
4. Sensory Elements
Incorporate sensory elements like tactile materials (fabric swatches, textured items), calming sensory bottles, and quiet fidget toys. Add in items like plush toys (like Tucker Turtle!), soft blankets, and soft lighting to make the space inviting.
5. Books and Pictures
Include a small bookshelf or basket with a selection of calming and comforting books. Create a cozy reading nook with soft cushions and a translucent canopy for a serene reading experience that is easy to supervise. Add photobooks of the children in your program that include their families and pets.
6. Mindfulness and Breathing Activities
Hang visual cues that guide children through simple mindfulness exercises or deep-breathing techniques. This helps them learn self-regulation and relaxation skills. The Turtle Technique poster is an excellent visual!
7. Soft Music or Soundscapes
Play soft instrumental music or nature soundscapes in the background to promote a peaceful atmosphere. Headphones are a great addition so children can listen uninterrupted by other noises.
8. Artistic Expression
Include simple art supplies for calming art activities like drawing, writing notes, or ripping paper for collages. This teaches children a healthy way to manage different feelings and strong emotions.
9. Calming Tools
Offer sensory tools like stress balls, fidget toys, or squishy items that children can manipulate to help them manage their emotions.
10. Reflective Objects
Set up a small mirror or a reflective surface in the calm space. This can allow children to see their emotions and expressions, which can be helpful for emotional understanding.
11. Personal Touches
Allow children to contribute to the calm space by adding their own drawings, decorations, or objects that hold personal significance to them.
12. Guidance and Education
From a child’s eyes, soft pillows or couches look like great landing pads for wrestling and jumping, so it’s important to provide guidance on how to use the cozy area or calming corner appropriately. Teach children about the purpose of the calm space and how it can be used to manage feelings. Encourage them to use the space and materials when they need a break. Role play scenarios when the cozy area would be useful and help children understand its purpose.
13. Multiple Spaces
If possible, have multiple cozy and calm areas to give children the option to create their own individual space when they need it.
Calming Corner Recap
Remember that the design of a calm space or cozy area should consider the preferences and needs of the children in the classroom. It should be a safe and inviting place where children can seek comfort and quiet time, practice coping strategies, and regain control of their emotions when feeling overwhelmed. Regularly assess the effectiveness of the space and make adjustments based on observations and feedback from both children and other staff members.