This year at Kinderworld Day Nursery the staff team have embarked on a journey together studying for the Hygge in Early Years Accreditation. We started this because as the manager of the nursery I could see and feel how the covid pandemic has had such a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of many families, staff and children. As a team, we wanted to feel calmer, less stressed and happier. Coming myself from a very Hygge home (as my mother is Danish) and having grown up with the concept of Hygge and basing our nursery around this when we first opened 25 years ago, along with other Danish philosophies and what we called always called ‘home from home’, I was overjoyed to find this course so I could better share our ethos with my staff and the families that attend. I am so happy that finally Hygge is recognised outside of Denmark, as it is a way of life and can really only be embraced if everyone understands it and is on board with it- creating a culture of Hygge.
At our Nursery we are all really enjoying and embracing the concept of Hygge, and are now using the elements of warmth, cosiness and nature to make the most of every day.
As we have progressed through the training we have been learning about changes we can make to our own lives as well as our nursery provision and practice.
We have focussed on self care, reducing stress, supporting wellbeing and mental health. As well as looking at the nursery learning environments, indoors and outdoors, the use of nature, the layout and activities we provide and we have facilitated bringing daily rhythm and more calmness to the day.
A big part of our training has been looking at supporting the well-being of the Nursery team and the children which is ever more important with the difficulties, stresses and strains Covid-19 has brought to our lives over the past year or so.
As a nursery team we have been developing our understanding of how we can promote more self-care and are providing lots more activities to connect with nature, which is helping the children demonstrate higher levels of engagement in their play and exploration of the world around them.
Some of the changes we have made to our environment have been creating and enhancing cosy spaces for reading and talking, providing little nooks with areas set up with items for the children to explore, lots of nature invitations and looking at things that we find around us such as feathers, talking about birds, looking at they types of birds in our garden, exploring leaves different colours and sizes and different types of leaves, edible leaves such as lettuce and herbs.
We’ve made the rooms more cosy by adding fairy lights and natural materials, mirrors, wood and fabrics, using dens and cushions and different soft furnishings as well. This is something we missed very much due to covid but have now reintroduced them and maintain a sensible cleaning regime of these items.
We have been considerate of Hygge when we have been refreshing our decor and rooms, introducing many real plants around the nursery to enhance the air quality and bring a sense of nature indoors, the children enjoy watering the plants and it makes it feel more homely.
We have finished decorating our babies cot room and one of the seahorses (1-2 years) playrooms, making them more cosy, welcoming and inviting for the children as you will see from pictures have shared.
Our cot room is now a calm relaxing space that is uncluttered by toys- it is a beautiful pale grey, white and lemon colour.
The cosy fairy lights add warmth and a beautiful glow, the relaxing sleep music helps the babies drift off to sleep and pretty yellow blankets and star covered sheets keep them warm and snuggly throughout their nap.
We are still currently changing the display boards to hessian backing.
We are planning to decorate further rooms in the nursery over the coming months.
The Seahorse group (1-2 years), has have a lovely new woodland feel, bringing sunshine and nature indoors as well as cute, cuddly animals to cosy up to and different natural materials to explore.
The 2 year old group- ‘Turtles’ have worked really hard to bring Hygge to their room and environment, with natural items such a sticks to make frames for artwork, a tree branch display that changes with the seasons. As well as a nature nooks that change with the season and festivals. We have added fairy lights, with shells and fir cones in jars which give a magical glow. Neutral curtains hang in front of busy shelves bringing calmness instead of clutter, also adding an element of warmth and homeliness.
Here are some before photos
Here are the after photos
Our ‘Dolphin’ group (3 & 4 year olds) practice daily mindfulness sessions as well as regular yoga and gratitude sessions whereby we light a candle together in a small group outdoors and discuss what we are grateful for, what we are lucky to have experienced, what makes us happy and what we love and enjoy, the adult then writes the comments down and they go into the gratitude jar which they open and share monthly. They have also incorporated more interest areas around the room such as a nature table that changes with the seasons and nature study weeks.
In our craft and dining room we have introduced pretty table cloths and pot plants for meal times, and mute coloured storage to help make the room look calmer and more inviting. We have used curtains to screen off certain resources and have introduced more natural resources and repurposed items and reusable/ junk things to be more sustainable.
Our Staff room has undergone a wonderful transformation from a dark and cluttered room to a light, calm, spacious room which has relaxing colours and positive messages. A place where staff can feel relaxed and rested.
We are continuing to explore the learning and curriculum focusing around the child and what lights them up.
We are looking at ways staff and children work in partnership during the learning process and exploring ways to engage and be responsive to children’s needs and interests when planning for their learning. This not only supports their learning and development, but also promotes their wellbeing and involvement.
We now share Hygge tips with parents so they can incorporate things at home as well. We are learning together with the children how starting each day with a grateful heart helps to unlock more joy and happiness.
We have been trying to be more environmentally conscious within our daily practice. Over recent months we have been introducing new ways to be sustainable by making small but steady changes such as:-
We are very pleased to have taken on a new Eco Friendly Gardener, the gardener and his team going to regularly maintaining our gardens and are supporting us to create a more biodiverse and sensory garden for the children, by investing in their services, we are helping reducing our carbon footprint, as no gasoline is used in their tools which reduces pollution by emitting fewer greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere.
The garden waste is also either incorporated back into compost areas for the local ecosystem to process or taken to a local recycling centre to be turned into compost.
We look forward to working with them over the changing seasons so we can further develop our garden areas for the children to enjoy through the different seasons.
So far we have created a new sensory garden which has lots of lovely grasses that swish and sway and rustle in the breeze, beautiful heathers and nooks and hiding spaces for insects and bugs to hide and make their homes. The children and staff can will this tranquil space throughout the day.
All year we have been using activities from the wanderlust child nature study and continue to enjoy this resource and the impact it is having on the children’s learning and development.
Now Christmas is approaching we are thinking of new ways to decorate and new activities that are more Hygge, natural, sustainable and eco friendly. We have included nature and natural materials such as fir and pine branches in activities and displays, fir cones, things children can make/do for others/ wellbeing, twinkly white lights, reusing/ repurposing / recycling to make the decorations and more nature.
We have lots of Fun and Hygge ways to celebrate advent. Christmas decorations and invitations to play are appearing around the nursery and it’s starting to feel very Festive and even more Hygge than normal.
We are being mindful to include nature and natural materials such as pine cones and fir tree branches and the children enjoyed making cinnamon play-dough, they played with it, adding pinecones, pine needles and branches, exploring the different textures and patterns they could make.
We have decorated our bare hanging baskets with red ribbon, fir tree branches and fir cones.
We made an eco friendly book advent calendar by wrapping up different Christmas and winter themed books to be opened everyday day by the children which are then read together and placed on the bookshelf for the children to enjoy every day during advent.
Most of all we are having fun and good connections with the children and creating a feeling of Hygge for all to enjoy.
The ‘Hygge in the Early Years’ course has definitely been the tonic required by our nursery to help us grow stronger again after the strains of the covid pandemic and also helped me go back to my roots and what I believe in and has enabled me to share this with my staff and grow my setting once again with this ethos and way of life that is so close to my heart.