Sanford Health offers guidance about the value of calm down spaces in ECEC

Sanford Health offers guidance about the value of calm down spaces in ECEC

by Freya Lucas

July 12, 2021

Sanford fit, a health activation program from Sanford Health, has provided guidance for those who care for young children about the value of ‘calm down spaces’ – a safe space where children can engage in strategies and techniques to help them regulate their emotions or take a break. 

 

“A calm down space is exactly what it sounds like, a place to calm down. You can call it a cozy corner, safe space, anything you’d like! As long as the goal remains the same- it is a calming, relaxing, welcoming, and quiet space for kids to go to when they need a break,” a representative from the program said. 

 

“Remember, this is NOT a time-out space or to be used as punishment. You do not send children here to isolate them from others. This safe space should be an area where children want to go when big feelings arise.”

 

The area need not be complex, or to take up a lot of space. A number of suggestions for creating safe and calming places were provided, as shared below. 

 

Infant/Toddler

 

This age benefits from a protected, quiet, soft place where they can relax and escape their often loud and busy classroom. They may also find this cozy space helpful during potentially challenging transitions such as drop off or changing providers.

 

  • Keep it cozy! Strive to make this space feel more homelike than a classroom. Include some cushions, soft pillows, or blankets to encourage comfort and cuddling.

 

  • Items to include:

 

    • Stuffed animal
    • Books about feelings and emotions
    • Quiet activity or two
    • Child-safe mirror
    • Personal pacifier if needed
    • Feelings and Emotions poster
    • Coping Strategies poster.

 

Preschool 

 

Preschoolers may need quiet time at different points throughout the day. After all, a full day of learning can be stressful! Don’t forget, children learn through play, so if it appears as though children are simply playing in this space – it’s okay! As long as the children are using the materials as they are intended, they’re learning and growing.

 

  • Cozy but cool! Set this area apart from the rest of the class by laying out colorful pillows and blankets, use a child’s tent, or hang a hook from the ceiling and attach a canopy.

 

  • Items to include:

 

    • Stuffed animal
    • Books about feelings and emotions
    • Sensory bottles or glitter jars
    • Stress balls
    • Child-safe mirror
    • Pinwheel
    • Coloring/drawing materials
    • Feelings/emotions poster
    • Coping strategies poster. 

 

To encourage children to utilise the space, educators may try phrases such as “I see the corners of your mouth are turned down and your eyebrows are close together. Would you like to go to our calm down space and colour a picture?” 

 

For further information about the role of calming spaces in ECEC classrooms, please see here

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