Your Secret Tool for Creating a Mindful Study Space

By now, you've probably heard of the incredible benefits of mindfulness, both in and out of the classroom. Meditation is catching on like wildfire, and for good reason. Mindfulness improves memory, verbal reasoning and concentration, and further benefits of meditation are numerous. But you don't have to institute a meditation practice in your little one's study space. There's another way to add mindfulness to his daily learning routine!

Aside from adding a natural quality and aesthetic value to a space, aquariums can be a great tool for incorporating mindfulness into your student's study time. Studies show they can lower heart rates and blood pressure in addition to improving focus, making them not only a mindfulness tool, but a health benefit as well. 

Interestingly, it seems the more fish in an aquarium, the better these benefits! Research even shows that with more fish, mood improves! Of course, it's important to keep other factors in mind before loading down an aquarium with fish. Take time to research which fish work well together, whether you prefer a salt or freshwater tank and how many fish can comfortably live in your aquarium. You don't want to overload it!

If a fish tank or aquarium isn't in your budget or space allowance, you can use a video of fish swimming for a similar effect! Check out YouTube or other video sites for beautiful videos, or take a family field trip and make your own! 

Whether you opt for a live aquarium or a simulation, adding fish to your home learning space is a fantastic way to increase mindfulness and support your child's learning. 

Creating Kid-Smart Spaces with Magalie René-Hayes

Last month, we were honored to have Magalie featured on the Raising smART Kids 2.0 Podcast, with Yong Pratt, owner of Elko Arts Academy. Elko Arts is a performing arts school dedicated to using dance, karate, music and other art-based programs to supplement traditional education and raise "smarter and more confident kids who become leaders for the next generation."

Join us in listening in as Magalie and Yong discuss:

  • how Kid-Smart Spaces came to be
  • why school design is so important
  • the role of design in creating joy in our classrooms
  • using various elements, like plants and colors, to create kid-smart spaces
  • entering study spaces with a mindful routine
  • tips for moms and dads on creating homework spaces
  • Magalie's experiences in individual schools
  • the Kid-Smart Spaces book! 
  • why including art in school is a must

How to Create a Stylish Home Study Space

Now that we've covered the most important aspects of a home study space, let's get to the fun part! Outside of ample lighting, ambient sound and appropriate temperature, creating a stylish study space for your little one is an entirely creative and individual process, but these tips can help provide a little structure for your kid-smart home!

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Keep It Positive

Kids may not inherently want to study, but creating a positive work space can change that up! Hang photos of your student enjoying herself, on family vacation or at a birthday party, in your home study space to associate learning with positive emotions. 

Separate Space

Home is a place for relaxation and nourishment, but it can also be a place to learn and grow in education. To facilitate this, be sure to differentiate your child's learning area from the rest of the home, even if it isn't a separate room. Putting up dividers, using color to separate the workspace or adding wall shelves serve to remind your little one that time in the learning area isn't time to play, sleep or eat. 

Share Ownership

Take care that you don't create your perfect learning space, but one that your student identifies with. It's easy to let our decorating instincts take over, but be sure to let your little one choose a few items of decor or his supplies, so that he feels like part of the process and is left with a space he enjoys too.

Create a Cool Space

No one wants to learn in a cold, boring environment, including you! Help your little genius out by getting creative with this learning space and building a fun, pleasurable, even adventurous place for homework and studying.  

Personalize It

Once again, this is a project to share with your student. Since she'll be spending the most time there, it's important that it reflects her interests, and not yours. Is she a softball star? A Star Wars fan? Put a little touch of your genius's personality into the study space. After all, that's what you love about him! 

3 Homework and Study Space Must-Haves

Now that your little genius is back to school and bringing home assignments, it's time to check in on the space you've set aside for completing them!

There are a number of important aspects to creating an effective at-home study space, but while the perfect colors and cute accessories are ultimately optional, these three factors aren't.

 

Lighting

Good lighting is important for obvious reasons, to reduce eye-strain and ensure that your child can see clearly, but it also serves to create a sense of openness, relieving stress and increasing concentration levels. Keep these tips in mind when selecting and arranging lighting for your little one's study space:

- Avoid placing the desk directly in front of a window, as this can be a distraction. Instead, arrange your student's desk so that natural sunlight streams in from the side.

- Window or not, position the desk to face towards the inside of the room, rather than a wall. Facing the wall while working or studying (or anytime, really) can create a sense of closure that isn't conducive to studying.

- Lighting is best when it comes from above. For this reason, avoid short table lamps and aim for taller floor lamps or ceiling installations. 

- Be sure to balance natural and artificial light, as the latter can cause sleepiness, which definitely won't get the homework done!

- If you have limited natural lighting, consider alternative options like cream colored paints, lighting that faces up and venetian blinds. 

 

Sound

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Another important sense to keep in mind in a study space is hearing. External sounds and noises can have an effect on your genius's ability to concentrate and grasp lessons, so remember this:

- Silence is usually best for smaller children when doing schoolwork.

- If your little learner does want music, opt for classical music or easy listening.

- Avoid using headphones, as this can be harder to tune out for focusing purposes. 

- Consider using the sounds of nature as background noise. Studies show this reduces tension and stress. 

 

Temperature

 

Not surprisingly, productivity can drop or increase depending on temperature. This means it's important to get it just right in your student's study space. These guidelines should help make sure of that:

- If possible, keep the temperature at 77. It's the ideal focusing temperature according to studies. 

- Avoid placing your little one's desk near the heater or air conditioner.

- If adjusting the temperature isn't possible, be sure to keep sweaters, blankets or fans nearby to keep your student at an optimal temperature for learning.

Your 2016 Guide to Finding Teacher Discounts

Whether you're in need of teaching supplies, organization, clothing, books, food, rent-a-cars,  personal care products or more we've compiled a list of over 100 retailers that honor teachers in the best place possible - their wallets. As you head full steam into the new school year check in with this round up for discounts on nearly everything you'll need and quite a few you may simply want. Happy shopping!

How to Prevent Summer Slippage

Parents may or may not realize that, while summer break can be an excellent refresher for students of all ages, it's also a tricky time for retaining skills learned during the school year. Studies show that over a typical 3-month summer vacation, students in varying grade levels can lose as much as an entire month of learning! 

We think there are ways for kids to enjoy summer just as much and still hold on to the eduction they've picked up during school months. One great way? Gardening! 

Summer gardening can be an excellent way to stimulate thought and creativity and help to maintain an atmosphere of learning (albeit a secret one) even outside school hours! Plus, interacting with nature has been proven to enhance mood, health, productivity and more, and gardening keeps kids busy and active! It's a win win! 

Here are our favorite ways to work a little summer education into the fun of gardening.

Count the seeds 

Use a ruler to measure the space between plants 

Play "Name that Plant"

Write stories about plants' journeys

Read gardening books

Memorize plant names 

Paint rocks with the names of plants or a drawing to use as markers for each plant 

Draw labels on pots 

Make pots out of milk cartons or other creative vessels 

Paint garden furniture

Making any (or all) of these activities a part of your child's time in the garden can help combat the summer slippage that comes with taking some time off. You can also use this list to kick start your own creativity and think of even more ways to help your little one retain that knowledge. Then share with us!


Don't forget to also enter our #SummerReading giveaway for a free kids' book of your choice! 

Our Top 5 Books for Summer Reading + A Giveaway!

You may have noticed, through reading along or following Kid-Smart Spaces on social media, that we're pretty huge fans of summer reading. Reading is an amazing way to quietly pass the long summer months, especially when friends aren't available for play dates, and it also benefits children of all ages immensely, through improved vocabulary, general knowledge, grammatical flexibility and much more. 

We pretty much love all books, but these five top the charts for best summer reading material this year. Take a peek and see if you agree!

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Mixed Me

With the follow-up to his debut book, Chocolate Me, actor and father, Taye Diggs continues to help children understand and deal with the unique set of questions that arise as part of an ethnic identity. Having already addressed what it's like to be a young, black child, Diggs has moved forward with Mixed Me, dedicated to his bi-racial son, to give mixed children something to identify with and a positive role model for accepting and being comfortable with who they are. 

With his main character, Mike, in Mixed Me, Diggs not only helps bi-racial children through what can be a tough growing period, he also provides an incredible example of of self-love, acceptance and optimism in the face of adversity, teaching not only children, but parents as well that it's absolutely worth it to be proud of who you are.

Role Model Ricky's Big Birthday Bash

Chances are, you want your children to make good decisions, know how to share, respect others, and have good values. It's a dream come true for most parents, including Jeremy and Janel Miller. The two parents of three boys decided to write a book after seeing that there were not enough books on the market to help teach children how to have exhibit good behavior. Role Model Ricky's Big Birthday Bash is their answer to this lack.

Jeremy may be a Minnesota State Senator and Janel may work full-time, but instilling good values in their children from a young age is something these two parents clearly value, for both their sons and many other children.

Little Banty Chicken and the Big Dream

We're increasingly living in a world where children are no longer taught to nurture their dreams, since they aren't tested and measured. For Lynea Gillen, this is a message worth disputing. The Portland yoga teacher and licensed professional counselor has been writing for and sharing her love of literature with children for over 30 years, and Little Banty Chicken and the Big Dream is the newest in her effort to bring dreaming back to childhood.

 With a heartfelt message, this beautifully illustrated book teaches children the importance of dreams and how sharing them can lead to discovering ways to make them come true. With the help of barnyard animals, children and their families, kids learn how beautiful, important dreams turn into actions that ripple out toward the creation of positive outcomes.

Happy!

If there's anything better than summer reading, it's being genuinely happy! Grammy winning musician, Pharrell's 2014 hit, "Happy" had adults and kids around the world tapping into their happiest moments, and his hardcover picture book of the same name translates that into still images and picks up where Pharrell's music video left off. 

With so many intense things going on in our world, it can sometimes be easy for little minds to lose track of the joy of happiness. Happy! serves as a beautifully composed and photographed reminder of what it means to be happy, something we could all use a little more of!

Asthma Is Not Stopping Me!

This upcoming book is the latest release in Emergency Room Physician's Assistant, Tolya L. Thompson's award-winning Smarties Books Series. Thompson and her Smarties Books Series are dedicated to bringing kids useful information about staying healthy and out of the ER in a fun, interesting way they can understand, all the while promoting literacy. 

For Piper Lee, the book's main character, asthma might be an issue she has to deal with, but she's not letting it define her. Through Asthma Is Not Stopping Me! and other health-oriented books, Thompson has created a very effective and valuable approach to opening dialog on coping with asthma in a way kids can understand, teaching children how to conquer asthma and be unstoppable!

ENTER OUR SUMMER READING GIVEAWAY

In tribute to our love of summer reading and this collection of amazing books just for kids, Kid-Smart Spaces is excited to launch a summer reading giveaway! Over the next three weeks, we will be giving away one copy of each:

Role Model Ricky's Big Birthday Bash

Little Banty Chicken and the Big Dream

Asthma Is Not Stopping Me!

Each week's winner will win one of the three books! To enter, get to know us on social media by following or liking the Kid-Smart Spaces Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram feed or all three! Then just share your details with us to confirm, and cross your fingers!

Check back each Monday, starting July 25 for winner and book announcements. Good luck! :)

8 Quotes that Totally "Get" Summer Reading

Summer is here. We made it! Take a few seconds to pat yourself on the back, whether you're a student or teacher, for making it through another school year! 

As far as we're concerned, the best part about summer isn't hot dogs, flip-flop weather or the beach, even though all of those are great. The best part of a kid-smart summer is so. much. time. for reading! These authors, leaders and all-around awesome readers get exactly what we mean. 

What are you and your littles looking forward to reading this summer? Please share in our comments so others can read your favorites too! 

6 Inspirational Quotes for Packing Up Your Classroom

It's finally the end of the year, and if we know teachers, we know you're ready to pack up and head home for the summer. Like, SO ready. This part of the year can be particularly important, because if you pack up the right way, starting off next year on the right foot is a breeze. Last year's Kid-Smart expert, Tanya Kolb, has tips on how to get organized before next year, and you can check them out here. In the meantime, here's a little organizing inspiration to get you through these last few days before the glorious summer. 

5 Inspirational Quotes to Get You Through the School Year

It's finally May, and while we've appreciated the Justin Timberlake memes, we know it can be harder than ever to push through this last month of school. Teachers and students alike are craving more time in the natural sunlight and aching to stretch out from behind those desks. 

The good news is, we just have to hold on for another month, and these quotes can help you do just that!

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June (and the end of school) is just around the corner! You can do this! 

The Kid-Smart Spaces Guide to Learning-Inspired Kids Design

We’re all about creating kid-smart spaces, both at home and in the classroom, and since kids spend a huge amount of time at home, it’s important to help them create a safe, inspiring space to be themselves. Of course, we also want to promote healthy growth and learning!

We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite kid-smart design items that accomplish both goals and add a little style too! In no particular order, check out our top seven favorite learning-inspired additions to the perfect kids room.

Map Wall Art

These Canadian and U.S.-based maps are great ways to add some color to your little one’s walls while helping expand their growing minds. Choose from a variety of styles and sizes to find the perfect fit!

Whale Reading Chair

We can’t think of a cuter way to encourage children to read. Everyone needs a personal reading space, and this one is simple, easy to assemble and totally awesome when you’re a kid.

Draw-On Duvet Cover

Kids need to express themselves, and this duvet set is ideal for just that. Not only is this creative design touch totally washable and kid-smart even without the doodle pens, it’s a great way to promote sustainability (save that paper!) and teach kids to let go, a much needed skill even into adulthood.

Color Your Own Placemat

What kid doesn’t love the paper and crayons at a dinner out? With this set, your little one can get that coloring time in, even during a night in for a healthy, home-cooked meal. With all the research pointing to the benefit of coloring, even for us grown-ups, this one’s a no-brainer!

Mirror with Doors

We love mirrors for teaching self-recognition to our youngest counterparts and encouraging healthy body image as they grow. This kid-friendly mirror is safe for any age in soft framing and even includes a bit of kid-smart storage too!

Dry Erase Wall

Any parent knows the struggles of balancing a creative, artistic child with clean walls. With these dry erase paint options, those woes are a thing of the past. Best part? It even comes in transparent! That means kids can draw on your beautifully-selected, colored walls without repercussion!

Dresserz Drawer Knobs

Kid-smart spaces mean organized spaces, and these dresser knobs can help accomplish that, for all ages! Teach your tots to put away their belongings in the fashion of one of our favorite quotes, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Pictures and words make these knobs perfect for younger kids learning to read!

 

Plus, check out these awesome, custom wall-art comics from Peanut Gallery Comics. These guys create framed, drawn-from-scratch comics based on your very own funny stories from life with kids. We know you’ve got some memorable ones!

http://www.peanutgallerycomics.com/

7 Alternatives to Natural Light in the Classroom

Did you know, the average student spends 40 hours per week indoors?!  That means less access to the great outdoors and the healing natural light that comes with it.  

Alternatives to Natural Lighting

Poor Lighting Can…

  • disrupt sleep patterns
  • contribute to disturbance in hormones
  • cause depression

The Right Lighting Can...

Of course, natural sunlight is the best type of light for any situation, but even when we can’t find ways to incorporate more sunlight into our learning environments, we can take care to use lighting systems that are proven to mimic the benefits of natural sunlight.

As school design becomes a bigger focus across the nation, one thing is clear: lighting is key to students in any space.

Whether you have the chance to include daylighting (bringing more natural sunlight into your school through use of skylights and the like) or need to work around a smaller budget, there are many ways to enhance the lighting in your learning space.

Pendant Lighting

Considering Renovations?

Sunlight

If your budget allows for a structural change like this and the building is set up for it, skylights are the best way to go. Installing one or more skylights in each classroom provides a healthy, much-needed dose of sunlight to students during the large amount of time they spend indoors.

Solar Tubes

If you don’t have the means for skylights, don’t fear! There is still a great option for incorporating natural sunlight into your learning space. Solar tubes, or installations that redirect sunlight from one area of a building to another (think from the roof, down through the insulation and into your classroom), are a great option for buildings where it may not be logical or possible to install a skylight.

Working with a minimal (or nearly non-existent) budget?

Sunlamps

If any sort of alterations to the building are off the table, check out sunlamps instead. These individual lamps don’t require any sort of installation, short of plugging them in, and mimic natural sunlight as closely as possible. They’re used in a variety of instances, from combating seasonal affective disorder (SAD) to providing natural-style lighting for stores and more.

Pendant Lighting

Pendant Lamps

Not only are pendant lamps great alternatives for low lighting, they’re coming into style in a big way this year! Using pendant lights in a classroom can assist main fixtures in moving light throughout the classroom without taking up any additional space (we know how valuable that is!). Pendant lighting also sends a wide pool of light down into a space, making it a great option for getting more light with a smaller fixture.

Table Lamps

One of the best things about table lamps may be exactly what the name suggests. These lamps are small enough to be situated on virtually any flat, sturdy surface and can help add light to areas of the classroom or learning space that are often overlooked.

Standing Lamps

If you have the room for it, standing lamps can do wonders for a learning environment. These stand-alone lights simply need to be plugged in and, for classrooms, placed somewhere that doesn’t impede student movement. These babies are great for corners, behind your desk and pretty much anywhere else near an outlet!

String Lights

Guaranteed to be a student favorite, string lights (think Christmas lights) can also help distribute extra light throughout your educational space. String lights are incredibly versatile, and there are about 1000 ideas floating around the world wide web for getting creative with them. Check out some of the ideas here, and aim to include students in a DIY lighting project!

While it may not be the most glamorous or exciting aspect of school design, lighting may well be the most important.

Just remember to confirm with your facilities manager before incorporating additional lighting of any sort. Once you cover that base, happy illuminating!  


Real Kid-Smart Spaces: Immersive Suite

Imagine if every time you needed to learn a lesson or skill, you were able to immerse yourself in that environment and live the experience as you learned it. Our newest Real Kid-Smart expert does just that for each of the children in her 2nd grade class. Take a peek inside her inspiring methods!

Kid-Smart Spaces Immersive Classroom

Name: Sian Thornton

School, City & State: Holy Family Catholic Primary School, Surrey, United Kingdom

Years Teaching: 4 Years

Grades: 2nd Grade/Year 2 (6-7 year olds)

 

In 2013, the school introduced the innovative concept of an Immersive Suite and a whole new style of learning. 

 

WHAT IS AN IMMERSIVE SUITE, AND HOW DOES IT WORK? 

The Immersive Suite provides children with an opportunity to learn in a completely different way, in an exciting environment that plays with the standard classroom space.

Lessons start off by immersing the children in the environment that the teacher has set up using computer-driven imagery, visuals and audio to create an interactive, sensory learning experience.  

Children are stimulated by the images, colours, sights and sounds of the world, offering a beautiful enhancement to cross-curricular learning. 

They truly forget that they are in school and not, for example, on board a flight to South America. 

HOW HAS THE IMMERSIVE SUITE ENHANCED THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

Children can now go to the moon with Neil Armstrong, travel back in time to a Victorian workhouse, explore the ocean with sea creatures - the possibilities are quite literally endless. 

These dynamic lessons impact students’ work and enable significant progress. Children who are usually difficult to motivate come alive in the suite. 

The Immersive Suite has also provided some fantastic lessons for children with Special Educational Needs, who benefit from its sensory nature. We invite children in from a local Special School each week and it is delightful to see their reactions to their environment. 

Kid-Smart Spaces Immersive Suite

WHAT HAS THE IMMERSIVE SUITE TAUGHT YOU ABOUT THE TEACHING EXPERIENCE, AND HOW HAVE YOU ADAPTED YOUR METHODS TO THIS ALTERNATIVE SPACE?

Seeing the children respond so positively to a space that contrasts with the traditional, restrictive classroom environment has made me change my whole classroom! 

Each topic we cover now has a dedicated area in the classroom where children can go to immerse themselves. 

When we learn about the moon landing. I spend an evening with a colleague covering the whole area in aluminum foil, and it becomes a space station. 

When we learn about The Great Fire of London the area is transformed into Pudding Lane Bakery. They pretend to run the bakery, and especially like the drama they can create when they pretend it has caught on fire! 

Best of all the children are more interested in the topics and often come into school with extra research to share and display in the area. 

THERE ARE THREE PARTS TO THE KID-SMART SPACES PHILOSOPHY: 

  • The places children learn in shape them, and help them shape the world.  
     
  • Space, light and movement are integral to wellness and success.  
     
  • Every child deserves beauty and inspiration in their daily life.  

WHICH RESONATES WITH YOU MOST, AND HOW DO YOU SHARE IT IN YOUR CLASSROOM ROUTINE?

I believe that ‘every child deserves beauty and inspiration in their daily life’ is a great philosophy to have. 

As a teacher, you get to know students so well, and you are made aware of those whose home lives are far from beautiful. Creating a comforting, exciting, positive environment for these children is essential to ensure that they are able to spend a significant portion of their day in a happy place. 

A positive learning environment makes a positive learner, and if you can foster that in a child with some tinfoil and a cardboard space rocket then you absolutely should!

Kid-Smart Spaces Immersive Suite

WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST SPACIAL CHALLENGE, AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME OR MITIGATE IT? 

It’s finding the ways to fit in the ‘essentials’ as well as the extra, exciting things to my classroom – like the cardboard boxes that have been made in to a bakery oven or an Egyptian pyramid!

I’m learning to manage clutter better, but as long as I have a keen eye for creative learning then I think it’ll always be a work in progress.

WHAT'S THE NUMBER ONE LESSON OR TIP YOU'D LIKE TO PASS ALONG TO FELLOW EDUCATORS ABOUT CREATING A KID-SMART CLASSROOM?

Keep it budget friendly! I (and every other teacher I know) could spend a fortune of their own money on things for their classroom, and I definitely have over the years. 

Working with a low budget can make it difficult to buy lots of new and exciting things for your learning environment, but there are ways around it. Thrift shops or eBay…there are so many ways to make your classroom environment more exciting without breaking the bank. 

Decide to make it a part of your teaching style and you won’t ever go back to a ‘normal’ classroom again!

Keep checking back for our next interview with Real Kid-Smart Spaces, and if you know an amazing mom or teacher, let us know! 

Real Kid-Smart Spaces: Selin Gasa

If you think it's tough to organize a classroom or playroom, imagine the challenge for a traveling ArtBus that accommodates hundreds of children. That's what Selin Gasa, our next Real Kid-Smart expert, deals with regularly. Check out why and how she inspires us!

Name: Selin Gasa

School City & State: We operate in Simi Valley, CA and surrounding areas. We have a 35 miles limit but bend that rule every now and then. 

Age Range: We serve all ages! But mostly 4 - 12 year olds.

 

HOW DID THE IDEA FOR ARTBUS ARISE?

My husband and I were trying to come up with something to add to our party business. Something different and fun. I thought of food trucks and video game trucks... but I'm more into art, and creating things... and I think the kiddos need more art! So I thought it would be pretty cool to convert an old school bus into an art studio. I mentioned it to my husband and he made it all happen.

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WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ART PROJECTS OR ACTIVITIES YOU DO ON THE BUS?

  • Kids paint the actual bus! They love that. The bus is white and they get to paint on it with washable paints.

  • We do a lot of eco-crafts... We turn recycled material into works of art!

  • Some parties we have a main project like tie-dying or painting ceramics, etc.

  • We also have a mirror in there so they can do face art with the face crayons we provide, hair coloring with hair chalk and tattoos.

HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED WHILE KIDS USE THE SPACE?

It's chaos during a party! Glitter and paint everywhere! But we try to contain it the best we can and try to clean up as they create. All art supplies are in bins.. pipe cleaners, poms, glitter, etc. Kids paint and do their projects on trays. For tie-dye parties we prep little tie-dye stations... We have bins with cookie cooling racks on top and have them squirt dye on shirts or bags on top of those.

HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE ONCE THEY LEAVE?

We have a whole lot of drawer bins and storage containers to keep things organized. Once they leave we just collect all the left over art materials and put them back in their proper bins. For the main projects, we separate them in large clear storage containers. We have a birdhouse project container, superhero container, fairy container, ninja turtles container... Every project has it's own. For example, for the fairy project we have 4 clear shoe box containers (Jewels/stick ons, bows/ribbons, flowers and beads) and we put those in a large container with the wings and crowns.

For all the dirty stuff like used brushes, trays and smocks... we pack them up and take them home to be washed.

THERE ARE 3 ELEMENTS TO OUR PHILOSOPHY HERE AT KID-SMART SPACES:

  • The places children learn in shape them, and help them shape the world.

  • Space, light and movement are integral to wellness and success. 

  • Every child deserves beauty and inspiration in their daily life.

CHOOSE THE ONE THAT RESONATES WITH YOU MOST AND TELL US HOW YOU INCORPORATE/SHARE THAT IN YOUR CLASSROOM ROUTINE.

Space, light and movement are integral to wellness and success... We keep things as organized as possible so the kiddos have an easier time creating. We try to give them a happy stress free environment.

WHAT'S THE NUMBER ONE LESSON OR TIP YOU'D LIKE TO PASS ALONG TO READERS ABOUT CREATING A KID-SMART SPACE?

Less mess = Less stress!!! Which I know can be difficult to do with kids... But if each thing has a home, clean up is much easier. Use those containers!

I have always been quite messy. I leave things laying around and throw my supplies just anywhere and everywhere. My husband is the awesome organized one. It actually used to annoy me. Haha. But I appreciate it now. I realized I'm more relaxed and can think straighter when my things are organized.

Keep checking back for our next interview with Real Kid-Smart Spaces, and if you know an amazing mom or teacher, let us know! 

How to Design a Child's Room for a Good Night's Sleep: Part 2

A while back, we shared a few tips on how to design a child's room for a good night's sleep. Now we're back with a few more tips on how to help ensure a long, quality stay in dreamland for your little one.

Bedding

Go Organic!

We adults know there isn’t much better than diving into a clean, comfortable bed that we’ve created in order to relax and wind down. Same goes for kids!

Soft Colors & Soft Textures

Help your child create a bed that he or she actually wants to spend time in! Let them pick out sheets, but guide their decisions by keeping in mind that certain colors and textures may be more conducive to good sleep. Imagine sleeping on bright yellow, 200 thread count sheets…

Bedtime Routine

More Than Material

Design isn’t just about tangible items in your child’s room. It also refers to habits that you and your little one create over time. One of the best habits for getting good sleep, for both children AND adults, is to establish a bedtime and routine.

Be Consistent

Our bodies pick up on even the most subtle instructions, so even if it’s hard to get your little one settled in at a decent time initially, over time, don’t be surprised to find her rubbing her eyes and preparing for a bath right around the time you established. Even for adults, knowing you’re headed to bed at a certain time helps the body establish an internal clock, and that means it knows when to lie down, and when to wake up, for the most optimal amount of sleep.

Temperature

What’s Comfortable for Them?

Take time to talk to and listen to your child. We may find it hard to sleep in a room that we find too hot or too cold, and your child is likely to struggle with the same issues.  

Adjust as Needed

If your average household temp is too cold, try adding some soft, comfy blankets. Too hot? Invest in a box fan for his room. The more comfortable your child is, the easier it will be to fall asleep when he’s tired.

Colors matter

Remember that idea about sleeping on bright yellow sheets? What if you had to sleep in a room with bright red walls? If colors are too stimulating, kids (and adults) may find it challenging to calm down and get settled into bed. Keep this in mind when designing the best kid’s room. Choose colors that are happy and positive, but not too bright. Think lavender, pale greens and blues, etc.

Organize

Most of us know what it’s like to lie in bed thinking of all the things we need to do the next day, and we know the level of relaxation that comes with going to sleep in a clean bed, in an organized room, with our worries at least a room away. Your children need this same environment. Do your best to eliminate any source of stress in your child’s room. This means homework packed and clothes ready, floor clean and toys organized out of sight and out of mind.

BONUS: The book scientists created that will put your child to sleep in minutes! Thank us later. :)

How to Design a Child's Room for a Good Night's Sleep: Part 1

Help your little one get quality R&R with these tips:

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Lighting

Dim Those Lights!

Lights are one of the body’s biggest cues that it’s time to sleep, so in the hours leading up to bedtime, begin dimming lights. As bedtime nears, switch off as many lights as possible to signify it’s time for sleep.

Switch Nightlight Bulbs

If your child needs a nightlight or uses the restroom often, use warm, lower light bulbs.

Blackout the Natural Light

A bare window or one covered with sheer drapes is likely to wake children up as the sun rises, often before they’re ready. Opt for heavy drapes, or supplement sheer daytime drapes with heavier nighttime panels.

Layout

Section Off the Room

Make a clear delineation between the activity area (play and work) and sleep area. Just like adults, if children are accustomed to using their beds as seating or play space during the day, it’s more difficult to switch off and get to sleep in that same space. Help your child understand that the bed is for sleeping by placing desks, chairs and toy boxes in other areas of the room.

Apply This Awesome Feng Shui Tip

Whether or not you believe in feng shui adjustments, the idea of the Commanding Position is scientifically helpful because it helps to keep the fight or flight response at bay.  

Commanding Position: The bed is facing the door, but is not directly in line with it, and located as far from the door as possible, ideally diagonally across the room.  

When you can’t see what may be coming at you (think monsters for your tiny frightened counterparts), the body remains in a constant state of stress, even if you can’t feel it!

Electronics

Unplug!

It’s becoming more and more common knowledge that using electronics before bedtime contributes to lower quality sleep.

Limit EMF’s

It may be tempting to lull your little one to sleep with her favorite show, but ultimately, she’s better off drifting to sleep on her own in a quiet room devoid of harmful EMFs. Not only will this ensure quality sleep, it will help your little one learn to unplug in the long run, which can be as priceless as meditation and other forms of relaxation and mindfulness.

EMF: The acronym for “electronic and magnetic fields,” the invisible waves of energy produced by electronic and magnetic devices. Basically, plugged in and turned on.

Blue Lights & Kids’ Body Clocks

Circadian rhythms - “the body clock” - are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in animals, plants, tiny microbes and in your little one. While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light does so more powerfully. A Harvard study found that blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much.

Real Kid-Smart Spaces: Tanya Kolb

Kid-Smart Spaces is launching a new series featuring moms and teachers from across the nation who inspire us every day to keep doing what we do. First up, Tanya Kolb from Brooklyn, NY!

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Name: Tanya Kolb

School City & State: Brooklyn, NY

Years teaching: 14 years

grades: Pre-k, K, & 1st grade


IT ONLY TAKES YOU 1 TO 2 HOURS TO SET UP YOUR CLASSROOM AT THE START OF THE YEAR. WHAT'S YOUR SECRET?

What I do at the end of school year sets me up for back to school, but technically I have two secrets: Purging and Organizing.

4 Steps to My Quick Classroom Set Up:

  1. Create Ideal Layout - During the school year I experiment constantly with my classroom furniture, moving things around until the space is laid out just the way I like it.  

  2. Document It - Once it looks the way I want it to, I take section by section photos of the room from different angles (from front looking back, from back looking front, etc.).  I also photograph each bulletin board and each wall.  Referring to these photos when I’m setting up the room makes set up move quickly.

  3. Purge Before You Pack - Teachers are natural hoarders! We don’t like to waste things, because we know how valuable and costly supplies are, but our downfall is, "I might use it next year" and finding things another teacher made and thinking, “I can totally use that.” Those are traps!  In reality, if we didn’t make it, we have no attachment to it and little or no memory of its use. If you didn't use it this year and if you didn't make it - throw it away! I know so many teachers who have boxes but don’t even know the contents inside.

    My purging trick is to pack the stuff I don’t currently use in a separate box.  At the end of the year, if I still haven’t used it, I throw it out. 

  4. Pack It Right - I limit myself to 6 to 8 boxes, but no matter the number you have, the key is to pack and label only items that belong together in the areas where they live in the classroom.  It can be as easy as “Front of the room - Left Half”  

THERE ARE 3 PARTS TO THE KID-SMART SPACES PHILOSOPHY, WHICH RESONATES WITH YOU MOST, AND HOW DO YOU SHARE IT IN YOUR CLASSROOM ROUTINE? 

  • The places children learn in shape them, and help them shape the world.  

  • Space, light and movement are integral to wellness and success.  

  • Every child deserves beauty and inspiration in their daily life.  

The first one is most meaningful to me.  Children are not necessarily organized by nature, but they mimic what they see.  They know how important organization is for me, so they follow suit and mimicry becomes habit.  Our habits shape their habits.  For me, I think creating surroundings they can value helps students value themselves and hold themselves to higher standards.

WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST SPATIAL CHALLENGE AND HOW DO YOU OVERCOME IT?

This year I’m very lucky to have a large classroom but in the past, struggling in smaller classrooms, I found excess furniture got in the way of activities and wasn't aesthetically pleasing.  Flow is important, so I always opt to remove any furniture that takes away from the space when possible.

WHAT'S YOUR #1 LESSON OR TIP FOR CREATING A KID-SMART CLASSROOM YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH FELLOW TEACHERS READING THIS?

Get rid of the stuff!  That goes for bulletin boards too.  If there’s too much to look at, the intention is lost on the kids.  Minimize the physical and visual clutter.

Keep checking back for our next interview with Real Kid-Smart Spaces, and if you know an amazing mom or teacher, let us know!