Friday, February 5, 2010

I need a little peace and quiet, please!

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!


  1. Those are so cute!! Did you draw the pictures on the board - so talented too!

  2. This is an interesting post for me. Our classes are only in session for 2.5 hours a day, and I tend to operate on the principle that I don't want to give the kids too many chances to "hide out" since preschool is the time to interact with the other people.

    That said, the kids still find their own quiet spots. Some of them crawl under our loft, some retreat to our play dough table and kneed the dough for awhile, others sit in a corner with a book. It's actually amazing to me that they find their own calm spaces in our chaos.

    Occasionally, however, a kid will get "stuck" in her quiet spot and need a little help moving on. It's a fascinating dynamic!

    Still, you have me thinking that maybe I should be a bit more pro-active about it.

  3. @Deborah Yes, I did. Like I said, I'm not an artist (although I sure enjoy it!)

    @Teacher Tom I agree! We do have to be aware who is using these spots, how long they are staying and the reason they are there. The trick is to allow them a few minutes to regroup without giving them the opportunity to "withdraw". That's why facilitation is so important, especially at first while they are still figuring out what these areas are for. We want them to be able to use these as a self selected regrouping area and not a place to hide out. I was worried when I posted this that folks would see this as a glorified "time out". These spots are not for that purpose. It's all about helping our little people become in charge of their own emotions, so they have the skills to face greater challenges later in life!


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