Classrooms are busy, high-energy spaces and children spend a large portion of their day surrounded by many other children and adults. Just like adults, children sometimes need a break from whole group gatherings, and creating engaging spaces for privacy can provide children with a place to rest and relax, re-focus, or play alone or play with a friend. Private spaces can also help a child adjust to arrival and saying good-bye to mom or dad and can provide an escape from overly noisy or active times in the classroom.
A space for privacy is an easily supervised area of the classroom that is designed for use by only one or two children at a time. Sometimes the book or cozy area are spaces set aside for privacy, but a small table with two chairs or an art easel with space for one child on each side can also provide children with an opportunity to take a break from, and even tune out, the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom. When children are introduced to these spaces and understand their purpose and expectations for use, they are drawn to these inviting spaces to relax, re-focus or gain self-control.
See below for ideas on creating welcoming, engaging private spaces for children. Photos are courtesy of Meadville Cooperative Preschool.
This sensory tub provides space for two children to wash baby dolls. Water play is a soothing activity and the repetitive activity of scooping and pouring water is calming to children.
This book area creates a cozy space for children to relax and look at books.
This table area is set up for one child to engage in dramatic play with animals and play buildings.
This theme related activity allows two children to explore pumpkins.
This writing desk provides space for two children to use materials.
Remember that a space for privacy should always be a choice for children and should never be used as a discipline or time-out space. For additional information on creating spaces for children, see the following resources:
Greenman, J. (1988). Caring spaces, learning places: Children’s environments that work. Redmond, WA: Exchange Press.
Curtis, D., & Carter, M. (2015). Designs for living and learning: Transforming early childhood environments (2nd ed.). St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.