We created a quiet space in our classroom. It is basically a table with a tablecloth on it (hanging down slightly to create a feeling of privacy). Underneath it we placed pillows and a cushiony rug.
Due to Covid we had removed many places where the children would be placed next to each other. We also made sure that there was as much air flow around them as possible. Under a table with the sides closed off was a definite no-no. This was a valid reason to let it go.
However, with times easing up in September, we decided to recreate the quiet space area. It has been wonderful to watch the children and parents use the space.
Immediately, children explored the area. It got very crowded as the children scooted over to make room for their friends. A few conflicts happened as friends got attached to their specific place under the table. They claimed ownership over certain pillows. Ownership is an important precursor to sharing so this is something that we encourage. Our friends are learning how to say “Can I have a turn when you’re done?” They are also learning how to say, “Yes, you can use it when I’m done.” The valuable concept of turn taking is an essential life skill. Using pillows in the quiet space provided the perfect opportunity to practice it.
Our new soft space was placed next to the book corner. Many of them chose a book and looked at it under the table, leaning on the pillows. Often, they would ask an adult to read them a story. Watching parents and children together beautifully demonstrated the idea of a parent participation preschool. Parents were reading to their own children as well as other friends who happened to wander by.
One day we had a “veterinary clinic” in our imaginative play area. The friends took great care of our stuffed animals. One of our three year olds took 3 bunnies over to the quiet space. There were 4 pillows placed in the area. She gently leaned each bunny against a cushion one by one. And then she rested against the last pillow. Each animal had its own cushion. Matching objects together to create sets is a math skill. This is one way in which academics are learned in a play-based environment.
Eventually, children began to use it in different ways. I watched as one child lay back on the pillows and watched the other friends. The beauty of a quiet space is that children can take a little break when they feel overwhelmed or simply tired. Young ones need the opportunity to experience relaxing when this happens. Some of our friends would sit under the table and read a book. It’s important for preschoolers to begin to notice when their body is needing down time. The quiet space allows for that. This one aspect of our environment has been wonderful to document. Each part of the preschool classroom contributes to a young child’s development in numerous ways. We have been able to watch the children develop friendships, pay attention to their energy levels, and enhance their cognitive development all in this one area: the quiet space.