Designing a Cozy Corner (or Safe Spot):
A cozy corner or safe spot is a place in the classroom in which students can relax, calm their minds and bodies, and gather themselves back together to be ready to learn. It is a place in the classroom that is calming and that has a low sensory load. The use of the cozy corner must be taught at times when students are in zone of being ready to learn. We cannot teach students during times of dysregulated behaviors. Therefore, practice when to use the safe spot and what to do there before emotional dysregulation occurs. For specific ideas of teaching the use of a cozy corner/safe spot, see Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies.
1. Choose an area of the classroom that is out of the mainstream of traffic but that is also visible by the teacher at all times
2. Choose an area that feels cozy (some children like a tighter feel in order to calm down) but also make sure that the area has more than one exit (children who have experienced trauma will not be able to calm down in an area in which they feel trapped)
3. Soft furniture- add some softness to the area even if it is just a couple of pillows.
4. Be mindful of the colors that you use (this is true for the entire classroom as well.) Natural colors led to a sense of calm. Remove the bright primary colors- use them only to help a learning concept pop out.
5. Items to add: sensory bottles (see journeyintoearlychildhood.com for directions), fidget toys and a couple of books on emotions or friendship, a Take Deep Breaths Board (free download), Teaching Deep Breathing to Calm the Mind and Body, and the Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies).
6. Be mindful of aromas as they are often triggers for children who have experienced trauma, but you can try a sachet with lavender since it is calming scent.
6. The Cozy Corner or Safe Spot needs to feel safe! It is not a time-out or removal from classroom activities. It is a spot to de-stress and work on getting the mind and body calm and happy or at least, content.
7. Ask the student if they would like to take a break in the cozy corner or safe spot. Do not leave them there alone- make sure to go to them to follow-up and teach (not tell) the needed social skill or strategy.
8. Gift the student with your calm. Do not show anger, frustration, or crankiness. Model slow, easy breathing and calm, even voice.
9. Ask first before you touch a student.
10. Follow up with role-playing, modeling and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of guided practice of appropriate social skills.
11. Teach deep breathing with cue cards (flower/candle, owl, bunny, bear, etc. as listed in the document or STAR breathing from Conscious Discipline). Be mindful of colors (natural is best)- remove bright primary colors.
12. Again- this is a spot to feel safe- not to be reprimanded or punished. It is a place to talk through behaviors and learn/practice skills and strategies needed. Think connection- not correction. Think – “How can I teach the skill needed?”