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Hygge (pronounced hue-guh not hoo-gah) is a Danish word used when acknowledging a feeling or moment, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special.

Hygge is a feeling you cannot translate.

It’s about a space that promotes emotional well-being, togetherness and friendship. It’s a place children, can feel comfortable to snuggle down or explore with confidence.

Far removed from an institutionalized sterile setting, hygge offers children within your setting a sense of security and well-being. An extension of their home and not a watered-down version of school.

Maria Montessori said “adults admire their environment; they can remember it and think about it – but a child absorbs it. The things he sees are not just remembered; they form part of his soul. He incarnates in himself all in the world about him that his eyes see and his ears hear”.

As we are all aware in Early Years levels of well-being are fundamental to children’s development and progress. Thoughtful caring practitioners, ensure secure relationships are formed, building connections and helping children to settle into nursery life. Practitioners must not only work hard to develop these attachments, remembering the physical environment is fundamental to children’s well-being too.

In the 1800s, Friedrich Froebel stressed the importance of environmental design in terms of a garden: natural, organic, and ever-changing. He maintained that when care is applied to a child’s surroundings, behaviour can be guided and inspired. The simplest of spaces can become a haven of play and learning

“When children feel comfortable in their physical surroundings, they will venture to explore materials or events around them.” –Anita Rui Olds

What is well-being?

Well-being is a particular state or feeling that can be recognized by satisfaction, enjoyment & pleasure. The person is relaxed and expresses inner rest, feels the energy flow and radiates vitality, is open to the surroundings, accessible and flexible.

Professor Ferre Laevers:

Enjoyment – The children look happy, smile or laugh easily, engage spontaneously in chatting or even singing

Relaxed and inner peace children have a relaxed and open expression, not feeling wary or uncomfortable in any way.

Vitality children’s body language is strong, their chest and head is high and not slouched. Their expressions are radiant and bright.

Self-confidence children are confident in their own self and abilities.

Why are we doing what we are doing? Many have questioned, who is it for?

“Children are miracles. Believing that every child is a miracle can transform the way we design for children’s care. When we invite a miracle into our lives, we prepare ourselves and the environment around us. We may set out flowers or special offerings. We may cleanse ourselves, the space, or our thoughts of everything but the love inside us. We make it our job to create, with reverence and gratitude, a space that is worthy of a miracle! Action follows thought. We can choose to change. We can choose to design spaces for miracles, not minimums."


Anita Rui Olds, 1999

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