There are happy meals. There are happy birthdays. There are books about happiness. There are even songs about being happy. Thank you, Pharrell Williams!
The pursuit of happiness is in our American DNA. But how do we create happy environments for young children?
This is a question we can explore when designing spaces. In our early childhood theory and practice class this week we are reading about the physical environment. There are many things to consider when designing the physical environment for young children. What may be most important is to create a HAPPY PLACE!
A happy place for children would consist of at least five things.
4. Developmental appropriateness.
A local bank is offering teachers a contest to renovate their classrooms. Contest winners will receive $2,000 to spend on classroom renovations. What would you do with an extra $2,000 to spend on your early childhood space? We can look to the Danes for answers.
Despite their long winters, Danish people are considered some of the happiest people in the world. What makes Denmark one of the happiest nations? In Denmark, the concept of “hygge” is focused on creating a nice atmosphere. In their books, Wiking and Søderberg share the way to create happiness the Danish way with the concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-ga). Dr. Meik Wiking reveals the Danish secrets of hygge and the keys to happiness that he and other researchers study at the Happiness Research Institute. He says, “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things. It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down,” (Wiking, 2017, p. vi). Sounds really good to me! We could all use more hygge when we go to our happy place!
Søderberg, M. T. (2016). Hygge: The Danish art of happiness. New York: Penguin Books.
Wiking, M. (2017). The little book of hygge. Danish secrets to happy living. New York: HarperCollins.