Adjusting to life at nursery can be daunting for young children, so keep their surroundings familiar, says Sarah Ockwell-Smith…
When you hear the word ‘homely’, chances are you think of soft furnishings. Comfy sofas, fluffy cushions, snuggly blankets and warm rugs are all items we like to sink into at the end of the day, or curl up in when we’re sad or unwell. Add more to your setting to help children feel relaxed and at home.
In early years, primary colours rule. Bright, bold and vivid hues stimulate and aid learning. It’s rare, however, that children’s homes are this colourful. Opting for lighter, more natural tones, at least in your décor, will make your rooms more reminiscent of home, and help to prevent over-stimulation.
Lighting matters when it comes to our alertness and relaxation. Lights that are too bright, clinical and blue in underlying colour can overstimulate and increase production of the alerting hormone cortisol. Opting for softer, yellow/orange hues and dimmable bulbs can help calm children.
Many homes have a ‘chill-out corner’. Recreating this idea of a refuge for children to take a break in when the main area gets too stimulating can help keep emotions under control. Fill the area with comfortable seating, sensory lights and books, and encourage children to come and go as they please.
Striking a balance between freely accessible resources for child-directed play, and too much clutter is hard. Good storage and toy and equipment rotation is the way to go about it. The saying ‘less is more’ is true. Minimalism isn’t just a trend for the home, it has many benefits for early years settings too.
Sarah Ockwell-Smith is a parenting expert and author, and the founder of Gentle Parenting.