Smart teachers are constantly looking for ways to create a better learning environment in their classrooms. From teaching strategies to curriculum to classroom organization, there’s always room for new and exciting improvements.
Studies are finding that children are more stressed than ever and experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and learning difficulties. Recently, a school-based speech therapist in Illinois reached out to our team to talk to us about helping out with a concept she was working on: a classroom redesign to create a mindfulness corner for her students.
This inspiring initiative got the Bearaby team thinking: how could our weighted blankets help teachers help their students have a more enjoyable (and dare we say comfy?!) learning experience? Enter: Calm Corners.
A Calm Corner is a dedicated space in the classroom that functions as a cool-down space. From tantrum-throwing first graders to cranky teens, students of all ages find these zen zones helpful in reducing their stress and anxiety. The Calm Corner provides a much-needed safe place for anyone (even teachers!) to take a breath and regroup. Read on to find out why the chillest classrooms in the country are creating Calm Corners - and how you make one, too.
What Is A Calm Corner?
We all need a break sometimes, right? Creating a Calm Corner in the classroom is a simple way to provide a safe space for kids to take a break and collect themselves. In the Calm Corner, upset, frustrated, or overwhelmed students can retreat for a mini-escape and a moment of focus.
So, what exactly is a Calm Corner? It’s a dedicated area of the classroom that is specifically designed to instill comfort and relaxation. It’s a simple way for teachers to encourage mindfulness and conflict resolution right in their own classrooms.
Why Create A Calm Corner?
The Calm Corner is a teacher’s best friend when it comes to encouraging a healthy, relaxed classroom environment. Here’s what a Calm Corner can do for your classroom:
De-escalate conflict: A Calm Corner is the go-to mindful solution for de-escalating tense situations and preventing blow ups. Allowing a child to use the Calm Corner before things get out of hand can reduce disruptions in the classroom and help students manage their emotions better.
Teach mindfulness: Mindfulness is sweeping the nation’s school systems. Teachers and school therapists are embracing mindfulness practices in their curriculum and including topics like meditation and yoga. The Calm Corner can be a staple classroom area that’s used to teach students powerful self-soothing practices that will help them manage stress, anger, and anxiety throughout their lives.
Soothe stressed students: Unfortunately, many children suffer from heartbreaking stories of overwhelming challenges. From strained family relationships to medical conditions or grief and trauma, our students are carrying burdens we aren’t always aware of. Teachers may notice the impact of these issues as difficult concentrating and focusing, trouble learning, delayed or problematic social skills, and a poor ability to self-regulate. The Calm Corner can give these children the extra space they need to process their emotions and stress.
Encourage mental health awareness: A Calm Corner is the perfect way to celebrate practicing good mental health. It’s important to teach children that it’s normal to get upset, anxious, or angry, but we should also learn to manage our emotions and learn strategies that help us feel better. The Calm Corner is an engaging way to teach the beauty of taking a break, simple self-care, and the power of a few deep breaths.
5 Ways To Create The Perfect Calming Corner
1. The perfect spot.
Positioning your Calm Corner in the right area of the classroom is the first step. Choose a quiet area that is free of most distractions but doesn’t feel too isolating. Some teachers choose to set up privacy screens or make their corner look like a fort. Get creative to find what works best for your teaching style, your students, and the space you have.
2. Make it cozy.
For a truly calming experience, your Calm Corner must be comfy! Decorate with a special rug, a few pillows, and of course, a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are a great way to cut through high emotions and bring a quick sense of calm to your students. A few minutes under a weighted blanket can help reduce stress, ease anxiety, and encourage better focus.
3. Supply calm down activities or instructions.
While adults and older students might be able to self-soothe on demand, younger children usually need a little direction. Print out instructions for breathing exercises or mood check-ins. Keep a simple puzzle, mindfulness book, or soothing music in the Calm Corner to help the student focus.
Teach students the power of slow belly breathing in helping our hearts relax and our minds focus. To practice belly breaths, the student can lay or sit on the ground with the weighted blanket over them. They’ll place one hand on their heart and one hand on their belly and count every time their belly slowly pushes their hand up. Teach them to breathe to a count of four: breathe in for four counts, then hold the breath for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold again, and repeat. Can they breathe into their belly so well that it lifts the big heavy blanket?
4. Don’t forget boundaries.
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just stay in their own Calm Corner all day long? Unfortunately, there’s learning to be done and lots of it! When making your Calm Corner, be sure to have set boundaries on how to use it effectively and respectfully. Provide a timer or a check-in protocol for returning to the rest of the class. Be sure all students know the proper behavior when in the Calm Corner, as well as how to respect other students when they are taking a minute of peace.
5. Everyone deserves some calm.
The Calm Corner can be new and exciting for students, so it’s important to give everyone a chance to try it out. While the Calm Corner is excellent at managing difficult situations, it’s also a great way to teach mindfulness, self-care, and the benefits of taking a break. Don’t resort to the Calm Corner only in times of distress or reserve it for certain students. All students can benefit from checking in with a few deep breaths or enjoying a heavy hug from the weighted blanket.
Calm Classroom = Happy Kids
We can’t think of a better way to make your classroom more cool, calm, and collected than a dedicated Calm Corner. This special space has so much to offer students and teachers as a way for students to learn how to positively manage their emotions and stress.
Weighted blankets make the perfect cozy addition to any Calm Corner. Not only do they brighten up the space with their fun and chunky design, but they provide real results when it comes to stress management in the classroom. A few minutes under a weighted blanket paired with deep breathing adds up to a happier, more peaceful classroom.
The Calm Corner Guide: Using Weighted Blankets In The Classroom
A Calm Corner is a dedicated space in the classroom that functions as a cool-down space. From tantrum-throwing first graders to cranky teens, students of all ages find this zen zone helpful in reducing their stress and anxiety.
Students are stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Let’s show them how to self-soothe with a comforting space in the classroom.
A Calm Corner is an easy way teachers can invite mindfulness, self-reflection, and self-soothing into the classroom.
No Calm Corner is complete without a weighted blanket. Children love to slip under the blanket for a super-charged stress-busting session.
Did you know?
“Buddy breathing” or “teddy bear breathing” is a common technique for helping kids learn relaxing deep breathing.