Your classroom is like your second home, so why shouldn’t it feel like it? Not only for you, but for your students as well. Studies have shown that when people are relaxed, they are more prepared to learn.
In a recent study, one student’s quote was: “I feel relaxed. When I’m relaxed I’m more ready to learn.”
Here are a few tips to help you arrange your space into a cozy, attractive atmosphere.
Whenever you enter someone's home, you most likely step on a welcome mat. Why not place one outside your doorway? A welcome mat is an inexpensive way to personalize your classroom and make it feel like home.
Create a Comfy Reading Corner
To help students feel safe and secure at school, place a comfy sofa, soft seating or bean bag chairs in the reading corner. In addition to that, a soft rug, lamp, and a few bookshelves will make your reading corner complete. Cozy spaces and alternative seating are a great way to help kids feel at home. Consider lowering tables so kids can sit on the floor. Allow your wiggly kids to sit on fitness balls. Let them read in odd places, like under desks or in your super cozy Book Nook.
Big fluorescent lights can make a classroom feel very sterile. Try placing a few desk lamps around your room to create a calm relaxing atmosphere. The softer lighting will not only help keep your students calm but will make everyone feel more at home.
Studies have shown that placing a few plants in your classroom will improve students’ well-being and performance. Try placing an ivy or fern around the classroom to make the room feel homier.
Class pets are another great way to make a classroom feel like home. Try for something furry like a hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig, but other pets work well, too. Hermit crabs are surprisingly interesting and easy to care. A fish is also a homey and relaxing addition to any room.
If your school district’s fire marshal allows it, adding curtains can really make a classroom feel like home. You can hang them over under counter shelving or cover an area of the room that you don't want seen. They are a fun way to personalize your classroom.
When students have a hand in what is created for the classroom they will be more invested in the class. Have students bring in a piece of old clothing they used to love but no longer wear, and sew them together to make a quilt for the reading corner, or to hang on the wall. You can even have students cut up their fabric and create quilt art and frame it.
Yoga Mats and Pillows
When a child is at home and wants to read a book they usually stretch out on the couch, their bed, or even the floor. Provide yoga mats and throw pillows for students to stretch out and read or write during certain activities. Yoga mats are easy to stack and put away, while throw pillows can be tossed into a wicker basket.
Rugs are also an option, and some are even educational!
Scents and Sounds
Consider all the senses when making your classroom feel warm and homey. Something that gives off a fresh scent (just make sure no student is allergic) like an essential oil diffuser can be a nice touch. For relaxing sounds, a sound machine is a nice touch, or soft music.
Take lots of pictures. Not just at the start of the year but all year long. Then display them in your classroom. One idea is to make a special bulletin board (or do something easy like put clothes pins on a string or piece of fishing net) just for student photos. Swap them out as often as you can. Send the old ones home with the students who are in the photos and put up new ones. This is a great job for a parent volunteer! For older students, consider having a Photographer of the Week whose job is to take pictures. You, of course, get to decide which ones get printed
Overall, it's not about how your classroom actually looks, but how it feels when you're in it. If it feels like your home, then you did your job.