‘My’ place is a bit of space that’s just mine. It’s separate from other spaces. It has my stuff in it just for me. I have lots of special places. The spaces I create and share with others are ‘our’ places.
‣‣‣ Phil Day
Whether you are a parent in the home, a teacher in a classroom or a children’s worker using a space in a room, hall or park, make sure the space is as engaging as possible. Ensure the spaces you use are interesting to children! Children will love being in the space. It will quickly become their place!
This may all seem obvious but a lot of behavioural problems can be linked back to an unsafe, uncomfortable or disorganised environment. Many discipline problems disappear when children have their own spaces with the right amount of interesting activities.
- Children’s spaces need to be safe. Children need to feel safe. This is also a part of what it means to show children a warm welcome. (See Tool #3) Check out all the safety issues and evaluate the risk to cause harm. Address all the safety issues. Manage the risks. Follow OH&S guidelines. Address any concerns you may have with your leadership.
- A child’s trust in you is a foundation for trust in others and his/her world. Mistrust fosters cynicism in later life. Engage children in their space, the activities and all the relationships with a great deal of care for their safety!
- Make sure children are comfortably cool in summer and warm in winter.
- Make sure children don’t end up with the worst spaces compared to other groups using a facility.
- Children can’t easily verbalise their uneasiness. When children trust their environment and it is inviting to them they will immediately be pre-disposed to feel engaged by it and the activities in it.
- When we make a space for children make sure it is interesting to them! Use colour, pictures, props and music as much as possible to help them to want to be with you in the spaces you are using.
- Activities, games, puzzles, toys, tactile play, books, and visual signs all help to invite children into a space.
- Ensure all this is age appropriate or it won’t be engaging.
- Just a space as small as a shelf, a draw or plastic box can create a sense of place for a child even in the midst of chaos.