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!

Personalized Office.jpeg

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

Water on Rocks.jpg

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.

5 Alternative Seating Options for Kid-Smart Spaces

By now, it's safe to say most of us are back in the swing of school. Welcome back!

If you and your students have returned to a classroom or learning space with those same old hardback chairs and linear seating arrangements, we suspect you'll find them antsy and ready to return to the outdoor life of summer sooner than later.

Coming back to a learning environment and staying still and focused can be difficult, even for adults! We've pulled together our favorite alternative options for classroom seating that can help even the most hyperactive kids maintain focus on what matters.

5 Alternative Seating Options for Kid-Smart Spaces.jpg

Ball Chairs

You've actually got a few options with this route. If it's in the budget, these Modern Ball Chairs from Fun and Function are great additions to a savvy classroom. If you're working with fewer funds and have the space, go for plain old exercise balls! Not only will they help keep hyperactive students occupied, they'll add a healthy component to any learning space!

Standing Desks

If you're up for a classroom overhaul, try out standing desks. Newly praised across classrooms and offices alike, standing desks are becoming more and more popular as options for avoiding the perils of sitting all day. This StandDesk model is completely customizable, but there are a wealth of options based on height requirements, adjustability, budget and more. You can even invest in balance boards or gel pads as well to add that active component.

Bean Bags

What we really mean here is: give your students some floor time! As humans, most of us don't spend enough time on the floor, even though doing so has great health perks, both physically and mentally. Some of us do our most creative work on the floor! Why not add a few bean bags to your classroom to encourage students to leave their chairs and get innovative? Our selection is from Amazon, but bean bags are available all over!

Bungee Chairs

Even if you're not quite ready for bean bags, these bungee chairs are an excellent option for providing alternative seating, especially for kids who fidget. With a few of these in your learning space, you may just say goodbye to telling those students to leave others alone or quiet down! Check Amazon for plenty of options like this one

Bicycle Desks

Here's another option we're fond of if you can fully commit. Schools like Arlington, Virginia's Oakridge Elementary have seen nothing but great benefits from replacing stationary desk chairs with these bicycle versions. This seating option works on multiple levels, serving to give fidgety students an outlet and adding a bit of often much-needed physical movement to our classrooms. 

We suspect (we KNOW) that there are many more options for getting rid of those outdated desk chairs. We have faith that these five will make a difference, but we'd love to hear your ideas for making the classroom a little more accessible to all learning types! 

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!

Kid-Smart Spaces Summer Reading Round-Up.png

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! 

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids

A number of studies have shown that plants can benefit children's health, improve mood, performance and productivity - and most importantly increase academic achievement.

Communing with nature pushes the "relax" button, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety and produces positive feelings. We consistently suggest incorporating gardening and plants to the parents and educators we work with, and as promised, we have some suggestions for how to do just that.

5 Tips for Gardening with Kids.jpeg

Prepare them with gardening books.

Even before you get dirty, introduce your little one to gardening through books. This is a great way to incorporate reading and learning while simultaneously getting them excited about gardening.

 

Let them contribute to the garden in meaningful ways.

Participation gives kids a sense of empowerment and makes them feel valued. The more ownership they feel they have, the more important the practice of gardening becomes and the more naturally a sense of responsibility can be instilled. Not sure what constitutes "meaningful ways?" Try these suggestions:

Let them choose the brand or color of gardening tools.

Let them decide between your list of top items to plant.

Let them choose their gardening outfit!

Have them name the plants. (Be prepared for some simple or outrageous names!)

Give them their own garden beds.

 

Make gardening activities into learning games!

Gardening isn't just a great way to incorporate nature and a sense of responsibility into your everyday activities. It's also a great way to bring a little fun to the aspects of learning that kids can sometimes find boring (Math, we're talking to you!). Try a few of our favorite ways to make gardening into a game of knowledge. 

Count the seeds.

Use a ruler to measure the space between plants. 

Play a fun game of "Name That Plant!"

Write stories about your plants' journeys.

Create gardening art projects!

Gardening doesn't have to be all about digging, connecting with nature and learning academic skills. It can also be a great opportunity to hone those art skills. Get your creative juices flowing with these ideas, or try a few of your own!

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.

 

Establish a routine.

It can be a challenge to get kids to sit still and complete their homework and study. Create a daily routine with gardening. Have them water the plants before they sit down to study. The act becomes a subtle, physical cue to transition to study time.

Gardening is good for all sorts of reasons, and studies show that's not just in our imaginations. If you're looking for a way to incorporate learning, enhance your child's life and increase their connection to nature (a proven positive relationship), gardening is the way to go!

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!

Eleanor Roosevelt.jpg

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/

How to Shake the Winter Blahs

When the first snow falls, it’s fun and games, snow angels and school closures, but 4 months in, the same snow looks a little less white (well, definitely grey if you’re a city dweller), the trek to school feels tougher, the early sunsets are more depressing, weekends feel shorter, and school days feel longer - the winter blahs are in full swing. 

How to Shake the Winter Blahs

Here's why the winter blahs can be so rough, especially on little ones, and a few small changes you can make to fight the sluggish, melancholic mood that settles a few months after the snow. 

The Effect of Less Light on Your Little Genius

- Moodiness
- Irritability
- Low energy
- Sleepiness
- SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- Craving carbs (sweets or comfort food)
- Distraction and inability to concentrate

 

How to Shake the Winter Blahs

Small Changes, Big Shifts

Change the study setting

Sometimes a shift in environment can help alleviate the "same old, same old" feeling of the winter blues.  Move the desk to another wall.  Add a plant to your child's study space.  Change the location of the items on the desk around.  Buy brightly colored pens or pencils.  Add stickers. The goal is to shake things up. 

Up the H2O

Our kids aren't drinking enough water which causes fatigue and makes them more susceptible to colds. During the winter season, amp up hydration to curb that exhausted feeling and fight off runny noses.

Check out these fantastic ideas for getting them to drink more. 

Add Exercise

Physical activity has been proven to combat depression and is especially effective on short-term conditions like SAD. Even if the weather outdoors is atrocious, try incorporating some of these indoor options. 

- Easy-to-do yoga poses for kids
Stretching exercises kids can do at desks
- Activities and play dates with friends

We haven't found a kid yet who doesn't love to play in the snow, but if you're finding your little one less excited and more blah toward the end of winter, try a few of these tips for pushing through to the new spring months.

Natural Disinfectants for Homes and Classrooms

Last November we talked perks of using natural cleaners in the classroom, including potentially higher test scores, improved indoor air quality and avoidance of other byproducts of toxic air indoors. These are all desirable, but so is cleanliness, so if you can't use toxic chemicals, what can you use?

Natural Disinfectants

We've done the research and created this list of environmentally friendly and kid-safe disinfectants for classrooms and homes alike. For our DIY readers, some of these substances are almost magic. Not into mixing up your own cleaning supplies? Well, we've got that covered too. 

Vinegar

Vinegar's been touted as a natural, safe cleaner for years. You can use vinegar by itself or add essential oils (since no one loves the smell of vinegar), but it's worth noting that it shouldn't be diluted, and studies show that, to be an effective disinfectant, vinegar must contain over 5% acetic acid, which is significantly higher than store-bought vinegar. For higher percentages, check online or at chemical suppliers. 

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide has been used to clean homes for decades. It's generally anti-bacterial and anti-viral, but keep in mind, it takes time to work. If you're looking to really sanitize a surface, let this natural disinfectant sit for a bit, and for an enhanced clean, try mixing hydrogen peroxide with tea tree or grapefruit essential oil, as they have additional anti-bacterial properties.

Baking Soda

Natural, inexpensive and extremely effective for cleaning and shining up your home, baking soda is the magic cleaner. It's useful in the kitchen, bathroom and virtually any other place you can think of (including classrooms). For clean countertops or desks, just sprinkle some baking soda on a cloth, wipe down and remove with water.

 EO Lavender Sanitizing Wipes

For fans of pre-sanitized wipes, EO is the organic, plant based alternative to chemical-laden hand wipes. EO's lavender wipes are moistened with pure essential oils and organic aloe and enhanced with additional essential oils to leave skin soft, clean and healthy.

EO Lavender Hand Sanitizing Gel

Another EO product, made with sugar cane ethanol, this lavender hand sanitizing gel is safe for use both for humans and on the environment and kills 99% of germs. We can't ask for more than that, but they deliver anyway, since using this sanitizer leaves behind the calming smell of pure lavender! 

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Wipes

For something a little stronger, Seventh Generation's disinfecting wipes boast the ability to kill 99.9% of germs, including those that cause the flu, staph, salmonella and more. It's not likely you'll be battling raw chicken in a classroom setting, but these wipes are certainly a winner for this month's cold and flu struggles! 

Just in case you're wondering just why bleach won't cut it and these natural disinfectants will, check out this great article on the negative affects of bleach on children. We'll be here when you get back. 

For our DIY moms, dads and teachers, the first three cleaners in our list aren't the only tried and true ways to disinfect naturally. In fact, here are 42 more DIY recipes for cleaning pretty much your entire living (or teaching) space!

 

3 Study Space Colors to Help Kids Concentrate

Color matters, in most cases, and especially when it comes to creating a perfect space for your little ones to learn. Go too bright, and you may find your student suffering from an inability to concentrate. Too light, and you could end up with a frequent napper on your hands. Check out these tips for striking the perfect balance, with the perfect colors.

In general when considering paint colors for learning spaces, medium to light shades of colors are best so as not to overwhelm. Striking that ideal balance between engaging and relaxing is important, so lighter colors can be accompanied by accents of deeper shades via art, furniture and decor.

These top colors work best for concentration, critical thinking, focus, analytical skills, and retention. They’ll all do the trick, but we prefer them in this order

Blue

Blue lowers blood pressure and provides a calming space for excellent focus and concentration.

Green

Green is linked to nature and growth and elicits positive reactions, making it a great option for a learning space.

Yellow

Yellow is reminiscent of sunshine and associated with happiness. Yellow is energizing and can encourage communication and discussion, making it an excellent color for moving spaces, like hallways, play areas, cafeterias or gymnasiums. In paler shades, yellow is comforting and warm and makes a good option for learning spaces as well.

Cool Kids Educational Toys: An After-Holiday Gift Guide

If you're looking to put your child's holiday cash and gift cards to good use for more meaningful post-Christmas shopping, this is for you. From encouraging your little ones to become citizens of the world to inspiring the next science genius, we've curated a quick list of toys that are equal parts, empowering, educational, creative and cool.   Happy Holidays!  

Little Passports

1. Choose an adventure. 2. Check your mailbox. 3. Discover and learn. 

Little Passports destination-specific subscription packages arrive every month filled with letters, souvenirs, activities & more delivering discovery and adventure. They'll spark the imaginations of children ages 3-12.


Elle and Cee World Girls

Rebel, Explorer, Scholar, Warrior, Healer - each doll inhabits these traits, and Elle and Cee World Girls represent girls from different countries and backgrounds, with unique personalities and perspectives, just like real world girls.


All In One Easel

Play, write or draw with chalk.  This easel does it all! 


Project MC2

Perform an experiment at home with tech genius and socially savvy, Bryden Bandweth and all the other dolls of MC2 using safe household ingredients. They're also available at Target.


Marie Curie by Miss Possible

Early exposure to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is found to be extremely important to girls' eventual success in those fields.  Miss Possible provides one part inspiration and one part skill-building through role models – in the form of dolls.  


Goldie Blox

Connected with incredible organizations like Techbridge, Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and the Society of Women Engineers for their work in providing role models and support for women in STEM, Goldie Blox dolls get girls building  and inspire the future generation of female engineer via these fun, fabulous construction toys.

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:

Sleeping Girl.jpg

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.

Your Child's Brain on Good Design

As adult guides, it is our responsibility to create nurturing, inspiring learning environments that foster academic achievement and creativity. Places where students can thrive and discover the special skills and gifts they’ll someday use to make meaningful contributions to the world.

Good Classroom Design Brains

Design - Schools Vs. Offices

There's so much focus on office design but considering how much more impressionable a child’s brain is compared to an adult’s (neuroscientists use the term “plastic”) it's shocking how little we're discussing school design.  If it’s already widely accepted that office design greatly impacts the productivity, emotional state, and physical health of adult employees, it stands to reason that the relationship between children and design is even more critical.  More and more experts are listing school design as a key factor in a student’s success, and rightfully so.  Genes provide a blueprint, but the construction of a child’s brain is formed by environment and experience.  

School Design Impact - UK Study

Researchers out of the United Kingdom found that classroom architecture and design significantly affected academic performance: Environmental factors studied affected 73 percent of the changes in student scores. The year-long study suggests that a school's physical design can improve or worsen children's academic performance by as much as 25 percent in early years.

Clutter Impact - Princeton Study

Another study, by the neuroscientists at Princeton University, found that when parents had to deal with their belongings their stress hormones spiked. Similar to what multitasking does to the brain, physical clutter overloads the senses, causes stress, and impairs the ability to think creatively.  Children then, suffer doubly. Once from their own battle to keep focused in cluttered spaces, and again when the parents and educators they rely on for guidance under-perform due to disorganization.

Even without research to back it up it seems an obvious conclusion that children’s surroundings can have a negative impact on their ability to focus and process information.  But the research does exist - and as interest in school design and tactile, design-based learning increases, so do the number of studies. They paint a clear picture: alongside key factors like home life, inspired teachers and school location, a child’s success is also linked to the spaces where they learn.