Add some Scandinavian cosiness to your classroom or setting using these suggestions!
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If you haven’t heard of hygge yet (pronounced hoo-gah), then where have you been the last few years! This Scandinavian/Nordic ‘way of life’ has grown in popularity and seems to show no signs of dissipating. Indeed, it has been joined with other forms of wisdom like lagom from Sweden and ikigai from Japan.
This post will focus on the one that started it all-hygge! In it’s most basic translation (though there is no direct translation into English), hygge means a feeling of cosiness, belonging and mindfulness. Many people have started to introduce hygge into their personal lives and into their homes, but why stop there?
Classrooms, nurseries, educational settings, homeschool environments, even universities can all benefit from a spot of hygge! So read on to find out how you can hygge your classroom.
Scandinavian and Nordic countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland, Iceland and Norway regularly top ‘quality of life’ and ‘best countries to live in’ studies. Perhaps it’s time we learnt something from our neighbours and embraced a philosophy that is based on quality of life rather than a relentless pursuit of materialism or perfectionism.
Best countries to raise children.
What exactly is hygge?
Hygge encompasses many aspects of life, from home decor to cooking to outdoor pursuits.
A key part of hygge is being part of the natural world around us-whatever the weather! Spending time outdoors, noting the change in seasons, bringing the outdoors indoors with the use of plant life, all play a part in hygge.
Food is also central to hygge. Fika, a Swedish tradition, involves gathering with colleges, friends or family and sharing coffee and cake. Good food, lovingly prepared and shared with people you care about, is highly valued.
A further aspect of hygge, and perhaps the one that has been most embraced in this country, is that of decor. Hygge is all about the cosy. Think candles, soft lighting, thick fluffy throws, cushions, pillows and giant mugs filled with your favourite hot drink!
Self-sufficiency also falls under hygge. In the Scandinavian and Nordic countries, an emphasis is placed on being able to do things yourself, using your hands to make, find, create etc.
Why hygge your classroom?
Life today is becoming more and hectic-and schools are not immune to this! What with testing, targets, Ofsted and the National Curriculum, it is easy for schools to feel like ‘grade factories’. Despite teachers’ best efforts, it can sometimes be hard to find the time to slow down and work on developing other skills with students, such as listening, understanding emotions, mindfulness etc. Hygge can help to create space and time for such activities.
There has also been an increase in the number of students experiencing stress and anxiety when at school. Some schools have sought to address this by introducing sessions such as yoga and meditation for their students. Hygge is a good supplement for such initiatives owing to it’s focus on being present in the here and now and taking joy in the small things in life.
Hygge also goes well with another Scandinavian/Nordic import-Forest School! The emphasis on being outdoors, understanding nature, using your hands to look after yourself, all feature in both hygge and Forest School.
How to hygge your classroom
So now that you have decided to introduce some hygge to your classroom or educational setting-how exactly can you go about it?
Follow these suggestions on how to hyyge your classroom!
- Create a cosy book corner
This will work in whatever educational setting you find yourself in, from nursery up to university level.
Create a cosy, quiet space dedicated to reading. This can simply be a corner in a room or even a whole room. Add some beanbags and throws or blankets in soft white, creams and greys. Have a selection of different books or magazines/newspapers for people to read.
- Bring the outdoors, indoors
Another one you can implement in any setting. Bring some greenery into your room by adding potted plants around the space. Choose low maintenance plants, non-flowering plants such as spider plants and succulents.
For a classroom setting you could even grow herbs in small pots and encourage children to enjoy their smell.
- Have a digital detox
For one day a week, consider having a ‘digtal detox’ in your setting. Put away the screens, the iPads, the TVs, even the interactive whiteboard!
Enjoy doing things in different ways-have children conduct research using books, carry out science experiments using thermometers rather than data-loggers, use physical models rather than a PowerPoint to teach a concept etc.
- Embrace the outdoors
Whatever the weather-try to make a point of going outdoors (with suitable clothing!) Create ‘season pictures’ to hang on the wall using found, natural objects. Create wildlife stations such as bird feeders or bug hotels and visit/observe these regularly to see who is visiting.
- Slow down…
Take some time to explore a slow activity with your students. Rather than trying to stick to a rigid lesson plan, develop an activity that allows your students to really take the time to plan, discuss, explore and create. Be less focused on outcome and more on the process student use to get there. Allow them a whole day-or even longer-to work on their project, with only guidance from the adults involved.
- Introduce some fika
OK, coffee and cake is probably not suitable for most classroom settings (but would be a good addition to universities) but a modified version certainly could be. Create a time when any student can come along, enjoy a soothing drink such as milk and a healthy snack, and just enjoy relaxing and being in each other’s company. Obviously follow all rules regarding allergies!
- Learn a new skill
Self-sufficiency is an important part of hygge, so consider helping your students to learn a new skill, either as part of their classroom learning or as an extra-curricular activity. Anything from woodworking to knitting could be used to help students learn a new skill that they can use their whole lives.
- Get cooking
Help your students develop their culinary skills and an appreciation of good quality food. Try to help students really think about their food and to enjoy it as they eating (this is sometimes referred to as mindful eating). Ask them to describe the flavours and textures they are experiencing. Create food posters or food poems where students can describe their experiences of eating certain foods.
If you would like to find out more about hygge then you could read the following books:
How to Hygge-The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen. Read my book review here!
The Little Book of Hygge – by Meik Wiking
The Cosy Life by Pia Edberg
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I hope you found this guide on how to hygge your classroom useful! If you have any other suggestions then please do share them in the comments. Remember to share or pin this blog post before you leave to help other teachers!9