Early childhood spaces are busy environments, full of movement, play, and fun. While the activity is exciting, children sometimes need to take breaks from the noise and high energy levels. Educators can support this need by creating designated cozy corners, or quiet areas, where children are encouraged to unwind and take breaks from the stimulating classroom environment. The peaceful moments enjoyed in these cozy spaces can support children until they are ready to return to learning, play, and exploration.
What is a Cozy Corner?
A cozy corner is an area in your learning space that is dedicated to providing children with solitude and relaxation to take breaks from the noise and high activity levels of the classroom. These spaces provide children with a place to take a break when they are stressed, overwhelmed, upset, or simply in the mood to be by themselves. Despite the name, cozy corners are not required to be set up in a corner – they can be anywhere that makes sense in your classroom.
Cozy corners are filled with soft, comforting items that children can use to snuggle, relax, and calm down. These might include a plush rug, stuffed animals, a comfy chair, and a variety of pillows and blankets. You might want to play peaceful background music in the space and include books and other quiet activities for children to enjoy. Setting up soft lighting by using string lights, or lamps with warm bulbs can help the space feel especially relaxing.
Cozy corners let children know that there is a place for them to go to find calm moments in the midst of the busy classroom environment. Taking these kinds of breaks encourages children to develop important social-emotional skills, such as self-awareness, acknowledgment of feelings, and self-soothing skills.
The Early Childhood Consultation Partnership explains: “Teaching children to soothe themselves by going to a ‘cozy area’ can help them feel comforted and better able to cope. They may benefit from a ‘cozy area’ to be by themselves while they adjust to events such as drop off or overly noisy activities such as movement or music.”
Setting up Developmentally-Appropriate Spaces
To create your cozy corner, it is always best to choose an area in the classroom that is away from the door and from busier play areas to avoid excessive noise. It can be helpful to arrange bookshelves or other available furniture to block off the area and create a sense of separation from the rest of the play spaces. Please note: even when the area is slightly blocked off, it is important for the children’s safety that they are visible to adults at all times.
Infants & Toddlers
Infants and toddlers are drawn to soft, cozy areas and objects. These can be particularly supportive in the morning, as children adjust to being at school after drop-off.
Some children might enjoy having an educator with them to provide comfort, and to engage with them in bonding activities like having a bottle or reading books. Because sensory experiences are a big part of learning at this stage, items with a variety of textures can be especially inviting and comforting.
Preschool & Pre-K
Older children might enjoy cozy spaces as an opportunity to be by themselves at particularly busy or active times in the day. While educators can encourage children to visit these spaces when they are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or sad, it is a good idea to introduce the area to children when they are calm, so that they can associate the space with positive feelings.
Collaborate with the children in your care to create guidelines for the cozy area, including decisions about which items should stay there and how many children should be allowed in the space at a time.
Ideas and Examples for Inspiration