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Hygge Case Study "Through teaching in my mixed Reception/ Year One class I felt lost between knowing in my heart what the children needed and pressures from SLT (OFSTED/school improvement support/LEA) to deliver the National curriculum."

Jan 17, 2022

Hygge Case Study by Natalie Carrigher

I began my Hygge in the Early Years Journey in January 2020 after 15 years in Early years, and 8 years in the same school (through special measures to good) I felt lost.  I was at a stage in my career where I needed ‘something’ but I had no idea what!  I still loved  working in Early years but felt my CPD had severely lacked in the past few years.   Through teaching in my mixed Reception/ Year One class I felt lost between knowing in my heart what the children needed and pressures from SLT (OFSTED/school improvement support/LEA) to deliver the National curriculum.  My practice had become segmented between the two curriculums, where I felt divided in  both my time and being able to provide a challenging learning environment for all children in my class.   I spent hours during evenings and weekends planning for both curriculums in great detail and  resourcing sessions. I would have all these great ideas to engage the children and develop a love of learning, then miss the magic as I would then be sat with the Year One children covering some aspect of the National Curriculum.   After some soul searching I decided I needed something new, something exciting, something for ME. 

I really focussed on bringing Hygge into my setting, this has been a gradual process over the two years starting by making displays more natural, adding lamps (I still have awful strip lights but now I do not need them on all the time).   I try to bring nature into the environment by adding sticks, flowers and things I/we find while in nature.   The first area of my classroom I changed was my reading area, it was cluttered and the children could not access the books as it was often too messy. I got rid of all the plastic boxes and added a lamp, stick display (which the children decorate) and added a few carefully chosen books, which I change as the interest/ need of the children change.   I added some hamper baskets for selected magazines and non fiction books, and blankets and pillows.    I try to provide inviting play opportunities for the children using the resources we have (unfortunately we still have a lot of plastic and I know this will be a long process changing) but I sourced some large and small log slices and the children use those for imaginary play.   The main overall change to my Early Years vision is I try to make it a home from home for the children.  I try to make the setting as cosy as I can with little nooks for the children to access and we even have an oil burner and the children help me select the scents.

The biggest change I have made to my personal life is journaling.  Every morning I get up and sit with my dogs and a cup of tea and jot down what is on my mind.  What I am grateful for, where I would like to go next and how I intend to achieve this.   Another major change in my personal life is making time for myself. I love swimming but never seem to have the time to go, I now swim three times a week before school and I not only find the exercise is good for me but also I think things through while I swim up and down.    I have always been active but with the pressures of work and my increasing workload struggling to gain time outside to just relax and enjoy it,  I now try to walk outside as often as I can and just take time to take it all in (collecting bits for home and school).    Overall the biggest change to my daily practice is time. I no longer teach two curriculums,  we are one class learning together :) I have more time to spend with the children and wonder, we spend time enjoying our outdoor environment on nature  walks and in our own garden (our vegetable patch was pretty impressive last year). 

The impact Hygge in the Early Years had had on me is massive, I have re fallen in love with my job and it has reminded me why I do the job I do.   I learnt new skills such as the importance of block play (blocks have been ordered) and how to provide loose part play, something I always saw on social media but never really understood why or how it was provided.  I  also through Hygge I have become much calmer and reflective, this calmness seems to have an effect on children as they seem much more settled and focussed.   The children now have time to access the provision continuously without interruptions, no more stopping for playtimes and assemblies. This has resulted in the learning opportunities increasing hugely as they become more immersed in their learning and have the resources and more importantly the time and support to question, wonder, make and create.   The impact on the setting is working progress, I try to bring Hygge into everything we do but I do feel we look a bit disjointed at the moment (a mix of natural and early 2000 colourful furniture), however I am confident over time this will develop and change.


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