I call a timeout! I’m going to hold off from exploring Next Steps for the Easter break and instead focus on some books that I’ve been promising myself to read. First up is ‘Hygge In The Early Years’ by Kimberly Smith and it promises ideas for bringing calmness and appreciation into my day, two things that I definitely need!
I’m a sucker for two things:
Stylish book covers ✅
Danish things ✅
Therefore without even opening it I know that book is going to resonate with me!
The concept of Hygge is certainly an attractive one with its exploration of warmth, wellbeing and simplicity. These are all things that I’m definitely looking for in this phase of my life and this brings me to my first point about any book that recommends an approach. It’s the buy-in, the ‘why’. I see the value of Hygge so in my mind I’m already thinking that the approach may have positives for me both personally and in my practice. However I’m not really into ‘doing’ an approach if it means simply parachuting some of the ideas into my day to day. It’s a bit like people ‘doing’ Reggio or exploring Pinterest for topic ideas. There has to be a deeper desire to bring about a change for approaches to be truly effective. Just cherry-picking can lead to something half-baked and insincere. I need to immerse myself and so does my EY practice.
On opening the book I’m immediately struck by the warmth of Kimberly’s tone - it’s like a Hygge all in itself: reassuring and simple with a great activity from the outset to get you thinking about your own life and the enjoyment of simple things. Moving into Early Years practice the book makes a welcome link between well-being and the Leuven scales something that time and again I feel that our KS1 and KS2 colleagues should begin to consider. Indeed there’s some really challenging questions here especially the need to reflect on what we really want for our children.
Hygge’s application to our timetable and the feeling that there’s no time for anything is very current. Kimberly suggests that Hygge-style thinking can offer the possibility of calming ourselves as practitioners, taking more time to reflect and just being. Schools seem to exist in a rush. There’s always something. Many teachers don’t feel they have enough hours in the day and this is because we are in a headspace that creates this sense of headlong-ingness. Is it time to take a step back and catch our breath? Is it time to re-think how we give children the space to BE?
Any book that quotes Loris Malaguzzi is a winner and Kimberly uses his analogy of the learning space as being like an aquarium in which layout, light, noise, clutter, colours, warmth are vitally important if children are going to positively interact and learn within it. Again I think this process has huge applications beyond Early Years and is in fact an essential whole school consideration. Primary colours, chaotic displays, Twinkl, word walls, days of the week be gone...
Kimberly is keen to point Early Years in the direction of using music, yoga, massage, group time and family coming togethers to deepen the sense of well-being. Making time for these is critical if we are to truly apply the principles of Hygge within our setting.
What I love about Hygge In The Early Years is its link to Home Life. All too often in educational books our personal lives are put to one side and the focus is on the children. But Kimberly uses the opportunity to explore how we can Hygge ourselves too, almost in a self-help kind of way. The importance of healthy eating, taking lunchtimes, exercise, music, socialising, breakfast, the outdoors, and even home crafts are highlighted along with taking time for memories, vitamins, and one that I really liked - community. Giving your home and bit of Hygge treatment seems like a perfectly brilliant thing to do and Kimberly’s simple descriptions and photos make it all seem achievable. Our own welfare as teachers is paramount, both our physical and mental states. We’re no use to children if we are struggling - they need 100% of us.
In later chapters Kimberly moves the focus back to Early Years and explores how outdoor experiences are so vital for our young children. From setting up a forest school to considerations of sustainable development the children are, with the teacher, working together to truly connect to their surroundings.
The team we work within also require a bit of Hygge-ing especially if we are leading others. Kimberly encourages us to consider the well-being of our colleagues, again using the tools of meditation, yoga, exercise, socialising, and chat, being at one with them, modelling and showing appreciation wherever possible. I certainly need to add some Hygge to my office and Kimberly lists some of the touches that would achieve this.
And the best til last: the 30 Day Hygge Challenge. From random acts of kindness to baking a cake, it’s the perfect antidote to our regular headless headspace. Come April, I’m going to undertake it. Like I said at the beginning there’s little point in nodding to an idea if you’re not going to live it...
Now Kimberly, where did I put those Ikea candles...
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....