Do you ever hear the older generation saying the best years of their life were… and this is when I was happiest. As a younger person (I’m talking under 70 here!) do you sometimes just take a moment and think ‘wow’. Not when you are on an amazing holiday or getting married but just a normal everyday moment. For example, having a meal with friends or your children playing together happily (and not with an ipad!) Do you ever just think … this moment right now…I wish I could bottle it and keep it forever. That amazing feeling of joy and appreciation is called hygge. It is a term from Denmark and is pronounced ‘hue-guh’ and its making its way around the world.
The Danish certainly know how to practise hygge with some of the happiest people in the world living there. I think we can all agree we need some of this in the UK, especially in the Early Years community and for the children in our care.
Hygge helps us focus on personal, social and emotional areas of learning, taking things slowly and taking time to appreciate things. In teaching, it is more about focusing on process not product. Children need a lot more time than we think to get to grips with activities. One day you may think they have it, the next they have ‘lost it’. Children need time to explore new skills and practise them in their own time. That is why teaching needs to be flexible and not rushed. Planning topics in detail in advance is only setting yourself up for failure which will cause stress. You need to plan for each day and take each day as it comes, that is why our brainstorms are so useful they are just ideas that can be taken at any pace and slowed right down.
The environment needs to be calm and natural with no clutter and have plenty of cosy spaces where children can relax. Bringing nature in with plants and resources will help practise hygge. As well as having long periods of uninterrupted play, a calm uncluttered environment and communication friendly spaces it is ideal to bring in ‘wellbeing time’ so that children learn to practise hygge. This can be a relaxing story, listening to some music, giving each other massages, yoga, meditation etc. see our mindfulness planning, not just for the children for the adults too!
Adults working in Early Years need to take time to focus on their wellbeing more than anyone, so turn your out of office on when you leave work and practise some yoga or listen to some music, have a candle lit bath and just be… every single day. Make the most of those precious moments and you will live a happier life.
Now put your phone down and go and practise some hygge!