Designing a Quiet Time Space

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It is so important for children to have quiet time that I would even suggest the lack of it has had a negative physical and mental affect on our children. Without quiet time, children become over stimulated. It becomes difficult for them to manage simple daily routine such as sitting at the table during mealtime or being able to relax in preparation for bedtime. They lack the patience to appreciate the natural setting around them.

When a child has everything scheduled in their life they are unable to accommodate change. With a full schedule of school, sports and play activities being planned for them starting at an early age, the child is actually deprived of making choices, taking time to think out situations and allowing time to relax.

If Play is children’s work, than children are the hardest workers I have met. It important to balance their time and environment with both stimulating activites, and calming, quiet children’s activities. Creating a calm environment can give children the opportunity to listen to quiet music and engage in restful activities (such as puzzles, stories and fine motor activities). This opportunity for quiet time provides the opportunity for children’s growth and development. However, being quiet and having quiet time is rare in the world of children and families, and schools.

True, a classroom or household with young children is seldom quiet. Even the sounds we like – music, TV, sports, pets – can sometimes fill every space of our lives, making us feel exhausted. Has quiet time become a rare treat?

There are many benefits of quiet time: the mind and spirit are refreshed, things that typically go unnoticed get noticed, and the unappreciated aspects of our
lives can be appreciated.

Here are ways to make a habit of, and to make the most of, quiet times:

~ Enjoying quiet moments can happen anytime, but it’s important to schedule quiet time for yourself. Go to bed earlier than usual, wake up before everyone else in the home, walk to a quiet space to sit and breathe, or submerge yourself in a bath.

~ Be still in the quiet time. It’s difficult to do nothing in our busy, goal-directed lives, but try. If you have to do something, try quiet activities like reading, sketching, or knitting. Engage children in these activities and help them develop quiet habits.

~ Keep a “quiet” journal. Write down thoughts, dreams, and life stories to record the best of times and to get through the not-so-good times. Help children to start a journal for themselves. Include drawings, stories, and their thoughts and ideas.

~ Create quiet, and soothing spaces for children to learn, explore and relax.

The Relaxation Centre

(The Book Nook, Relax Inn, Library Centre)
This is a quiet area where children can look at books, view filmstrips, listen to a variety of taped resources and write (emergent type) stories of their own. Books and stories are often shared with classmates. This area should be carpeted, attractive and near a window. Although not ideal, it may be
necessary to combine this centre with the listening area in order to share equipment that both areas utilize (e.g., listening post, audiocassette player-recorder).

Possible Resources to include:
audiocassette player-recorder and audiocassettes
soothing music or taped nature sounds
booklet (blank–for children to draw or write about experiences in centre or to create their own books)
paper, scissors, crayons, felt pens
wide selection ot books, including storybooks, picture books, non-fiction, read-along books, reference books and books made by children (fair and equitable) catalogues, magazines
filmstrips and viewers
flannel board and felt story characters, shapes, letters and numbers, etc.
magnetic board and letters, numbers, shapes etc.
shelf/racks/tables to display books
table (low)
taped story and book sets
compact disc player and discs
computer, hardware and software
area rug

Soothing Experiences

Listening to favorite music
Setting up squirrel and bird feeders to observe wildlife
Looking through photograph albums
Going on a drive
Watching fish in an aquarium
Use Lotion with glitter added to it. Give it to children to sooth bumps or to settle children.

Quiet Time

This is my quiet time
My feet are flat and still
My hands too are still
My hands are in my lap
My head is limp
My body is limp
Now head rest on my knees
My head comes up
Now I am ready to listen.

Outdoor Silence

Help children be better listeners and observers. This simple activity will develop listening, imaging, describing, and drawing skills.
Find a place where everyone can sit down outdoors. Once all are seated, ask the group for 5 minutes of silence. Explain that animals and birds won’t resume their activities unless all are quiet. Once the time is up, have each student tell the group about something he/she has never heard before. You’ll be surprised at the answers you get-sometimes the quiet itself is something many kids have never encountered!

Reflective Painting

Materials: Paint, Feathers, Paper, lullaby music
Directions: Play a lullaby and allow children time to reflect on the tempo and movement of the music. Use large paper and encourage the children to paint a picture using feathers as a brush. I love the effect of black paint on white paper.

For the Adult

Everyone needs quiet time in their day when they can just be with their own thoughts. This isn’t daydreaming. The serenity of quiet time can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It can be taking a walk, gardening, making a pot of tea or taking a long, hot shower. Each day, take twenty minutes to stop, reflect and enjoy being who you are. Think about the past, present, future or nothing in particular. Relax by yourself and you will feel renewed. Tranquillity will re-energize you. Without trying, you will be amazed at how your subconscious mind releases so many good ideas. As you reflect upon the true sense for your existence, you can better deal with hardships. Take a deep breath and continue to breathe slowly and steadily. Look around. Use all your senses. You will find contentment in the solitude.

Quiet time is really not an option but a requirement. You must have quiet time to be alone with yourself each day to sort out the happenings of the day or the previous day and to put them into their proper perspective. It is time that will allow you to arrange your priorities. You will also find that with time, your quiet time period will start to yield many ideas and creative solutions.

Look up at the sky. Smell a flower. Watch a dog chase a stick. Feel the wind blow. Relax. You can take a walk without exercising. Relax. You can enjoy the flowers without gardening. Relax. You can sit in the park alone and have your lunch. Relax. You can sit in a chair without sleeping. Enjoy. No TV, no radios, no books, no talk, no one with you.

Take it easy.

Be patient.

The rewards of quiet time may not be miraculous but they often are very special. Calmly, you will be able to put small problems into perspective and you will be able to keep small problems from becoming big problems.