As adults, we all need a few minutes to "escape" from the demands around us. But children have that need, too. Too often we ask our students to "stop and think" before they act, but do we give them the tools to do so? Try adding a quiet corner to your classroom to give students an opportunity to get away for a few minutes or cool down. Teaching our young friends social/ emotional skills are just as important as the academics we teach throughout the day. Preschoolers are just learning how to deal with emotions and conflict. You would be surprised how often this can help a student manage both behavior and conflicts. This space SHOULD NOT be a "time out" space, but more of a self-selected area that a student can go to be alone, collect his thoughts, regroup, or even read! If students are facilitated the first few times, they will often choose this as an alternative to acting out. The centers should be introduced and it should be made clear that these are special places and friends visiting these areas should not be disturbed.
The challenge for most classroom is space. I've found a few alternatives that have given me three different locations a student can go to get a moment or two alone. To go along with these three spaces, I have a "Quiet Corner" box that holds a few books and magazines, a small puzzle, a writing box, write on/wipe off cards, a couple of beanie baby stuffed animals and a pinwheel. Students may certainly bring something from another classroom area, as well.
I bought a plain white triboard from WalMart and did a quick decoration job. I'm by no means an artist---clipart could have been used, but I was out of color ink and wanted to get this going.
I have a two sided children's tent that I've had since my youngest was little. I've kept it in my preschool closet and pull it out for camping themes, pajama days, etc. I've given it new life and it's back in regular use!
On tiny piece of wall in between my closet and the open end of a wall, I've placed a small rocker with a few pillows for comfort.
These areas have become very popular with my kids as a means of learning self-control. The trick is to guide them to learn to use these areas effectively. Usually these centers are only visited for a few minutes, but those few minutes can sure make a whole world of difference for the rest of the day. If I want my friends to learn to become the best little humans they can be, I must give them the tools to do so!
I have been teaching early childhood for about 20 years. I love what I do---it's the best job in the world!!! Where else can you go to work each day and do art, play games, have snack and get hugs regularly AND get paid for it?! I love to share ideas with other teachers and see what they are doing in their classrooms. Teaching is the best profession---we love to share!