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"We embarked on the HYGEE journey to promote a sense of calm and a tranquil environment "

Oct 25, 2021

For years at Small Steps, we had done everything precise, by the books, always forward thinking but chained by the frameworks and policies of a government falling slowly behind the times. Our nursery was beautiful but we had started to move towards more natural, open ended, authentic sourced resources after doing some research.

We embarked on the HYGEE journey to promote a sense of calm and a tranquil environment throughout the whole of the nursery as well as our outdoor area after completing our Curiosity Approach Accreditation. At the beginning of our journey, we set ourselves a vision. A vision of awe and wonder, peaceful, cosy and calm environment using real life and authentic resources where children can thrive in the learning environment. This is where HYGEE came in to place. We started by doing our research of the meaning of HYGEE and how we would embed it into our nursery setting. We did action plans on how and why we wanted to change the setting and implement HYGEE into it as well as the benefits it would have on the children and our families. We are lucky to have a family attend our setting who are from Denmark. They talk so highly of the definition of HYGEE and how it can support the children, staff and families’ wellbeing and approach to things in their lives and being in the moment.

The further we delved into what setting and people we really are, and what we really wanted from teaching and life, the clearer every other step in this process became. From many action plans we explored various options of being in the moment and embracing the feelings of warmth, simplicity and togetherness.

We changed our planning to observing the children ‘in the moment’ and supporting their development and next steps from their interests. This supports the children in the best way as they are learning and developing whilst doing something that they have chosen to explore and investigate and it is always child led. This became our curriculum.

 

During the pandemic, we stayed open but to key worker children only and 80% of the staff went on furlough. Our children needed some normality and we are so happy we could provide some routine for them and their families. We continued to work in partnership with the children and families that didn’t attend through our online journals, setting challenges for them to complete. This is when we started to reflect on the setting and we made changes

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The next stage of implementing HYGEE was the change of the rooms within the setting. This included the staff room and the entrance. The staff worked together as a team and created a mood board of things they wanted to create within their rooms. They created ‘Zen Dens’ in which the children could retreat too if they wanted a rest which involved soft cushioning, blankets, spa like music We changed the lighting throughout the nursery from large ceiling lights to chandeliers. We have fairy lights throughout the setting, wrapped around large branches to bring the natural resources into the environment. We have different lamps in all the rooms. All lighting has been risk assessed. We changed brightly coloured displays and reduced the boards within the rooms, changing them to frames and pictures. The same with loud coloured toys, we reduced these and introduce loose parts and authentic resources. From this adjustment, we noticed a change in the children. They became Zen. They became curious explorers and the atmosphere throughout the nursery altered Our continuous provision from indoors to outdoors is paramount. We have embedded this to the staff and introduced areas in the garden such as a creative station, home corner, play trays for invitations and ‘The Burrow’ for under 1’s. We go on local walks into the community, the shops and the local beach. The staff take out resources with them to continue their learning outdoors such as play dough, reading and writing books, blankets and den making equipment. Continuous provision gives the children a set of consistent resources that are always out and available every single day despite who sets up. This then allows for every day opportunities, allows for repetition, encourages independence and allows the children to take the lead.

We support the children’s independence from early on. The children have the opportunities to dish out their own meals, have the options to choose from different cereals, can pour themselves drinks, put on their shoes and coats and the main independence to explore. This teaches them all the life skills they will need for the future and gives them the chance to make informed decisions.

After observing the staff in each of their rooms, we discussed how we could allow the children to get the most out of their activities. Training was given on how to provoke imagination, spark curiosity and provide high quality, open ended interaction between the children and the staff. To ensure this continues we will be observing each other through invitations and daily routines through peer observations. To thank the staff for their continuous hard work, we have ‘Well-being Wednesday’. We cook them breakfast for a week once a month and they always have treats in the staff room. We thank our staff daily, and remain to do ‘Employee of the month’. We go on team building days out and evenings sometimes after work. This brings trust, togetherness and partnership together.

From working through the Curiosity Approach and HYGEE accreditations, we have not only realised that we have come so far but that the journey still continues.

If you would like to join the Hygge in the Early Years Accreditation or find out more information click here

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