Cultivating a peaceful classroom: supporting students in the first week of school

As early years educators in childcare settings, we play a crucial role in nurturing and supporting children as they embark on new experiences. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips, activities, and resources that can help ease the transition, address anxiety and upset, and foster a calm and welcoming atmosphere in the classroom.

Understanding Childhood Anxiety and Upset:

The start of a new school year can be overwhelming for many students, and it’s vital for educators to recognize and address any anxiety or upset they may experience. By understanding these challenges, we can respond with empathy and implement strategies to help our students feel safe and secure.

Cultivating a Peaceful Environment

A peaceful classroom environment is essential for creating a positive and conducive learning experience. Let’s explore some practical steps to consider:

Soothing Decor: Utilize calming colors and natural elements in the classroom design. Create cozy reading corners, incorporate soft lighting, and provide comfortable seating areas to establish a serene atmosphere.

Smooth Transitions: Help students transition between activities by using visual cues, songs, or mindfulness exercises. These techniques provide structure, predictability, and reduce anxiety, ultimately fostering a peaceful environment.

Safe Spaces: Designate a quiet corner or cozy nook where students can retreat when they need a moment to calm down or recharge. Fill this space with soft cushions, books, and calming sensory activities like a mindfulness jar or sensory toys.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Integrating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into the daily routine can have a profound impact on students’ emotional well-being and self-regulation. Here’s how you can incorporate these practices into your classroom:

Morning Mindfulness: Begin each day with a brief mindfulness practice. Gather the students who want to participate in a circle, invite them to close their eyes, and guide them through a few moments of deep breathing and body awareness. This practice sets a positive tone for the day ahead.

Mindful Moments: Throughout the day, incorporate brief mindfulness breaks. Encourage students to pause, take a few deep breaths, and engage in mindful awareness of their surroundings. This helps them develop self-awareness and cultivates a sense of calm.

Relaxation Exercises: Introduce relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery. These techniques can be practiced during quiet times or before nap time, allowing students to release tension and find inner peace.

Engaging Activities and Resources:

Engaging activities and resources can help students feel comfortable, excited, and motivated about their learning environment. Consider the following ideas:

All About Me Collage: Encourage students to create an “All About Me” collage, where they can showcase their interests, hobbies, and family photos. This activity promotes a sense of belonging and encourages peer connections.

Feelings Check-In: Set up a feelings check-in board where students can express their emotions using visuals or written words. This provides an opportunity for open communication and allows educators to address any concerns promptly. Here is a great feeling thermometer that you can use!

Storytelling and Dramatic Play: Incorporate storytelling and dramatic play to introduce important themes like friendship, kindness, and empathy. Students can participate by acting out scenarios or creating their own stories, fostering creativity and social-emotional development.

Calming Corner: Dedicate a designated area in the classroom as a calming corner. Equip it with cozy seating, soft lighting, and calming sensory materials like stress balls or sensory jars. This space provides students with a peaceful retreat when they need a moment of relaxation. You can find some free resources for your calming corner on our website here.

As early years educators, we have the incredible opportunity to create a nurturing and peaceful classroom environment for our students. By understanding childhood anxiety, cultivating a serene atmosphere, integrating mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and providing engaging activities, we can support our students during their transition into a new school year. Let’s embark on this journey together, fostering a sense of calm, resilience, and joy in our classrooms.

I hope you find these tips and ideas helpful as you prepare to welcome your students to a peaceful classroom. Wishing you a successful and harmonious start to the school year!

With kindness,

Michelle

Michelle Faber is the CEO and Founder of Little Yogis Academy, an early years yoga & mindfulness program. Committed to promoting children’s mental health, she founded the program in 2019 to instill resiliency tools at an early age. Seeing the impact, she expanded to create Busy Minds Ed., benefiting K-12 schools. Her company is now a thriving franchise with multiple locations across Ontario and one in the UAE. Michelle’s influential voice extends as a speaker and media advocate for children’s mental health. Her dedication continues to transform lives and empower young minds.

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Maddie Hutchison

Maddie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Master's in Early Childhood Studies. Her specialty is in Children's Rights and she is currently a Content Strategist for HiMama!