For a long time we associated early years settings with bold, bright colours. Indeed the ‘primary’ colours which probably many people think are specifically named for primary schools and earlier!
Newer trends, however, have transformed nurseries into beige and cream, hessian-backed, havens of calm and neutral colour palettes. Colourful plastic toys have been replaced with more traditional wooden toys and elements of the outdoors – leaves and logs and such.
How are these trends developing and what else have we seen emerging?
The ‘hygge’ movement, based on Danish living styles, is based around a focus on enjoying life’s simple pleasures. Bringing nature indoors, and feeling cosy, safe and warm, are all associated with this calm and mindful practice. Mood lighting, music, and even smells are added to create an all-sensory approach to early years which we are seeing in more and more settings. New build nurseries have been able to build this into their development plans and think about natural lighting and the shapes and spaces in their environments, whereas those in older buildings are having to go through a longer process of change. This can be costly, especially where toys and other resources all need replacing. But not everyone wants a drastic change. Some nurseries are taking elements of the hygge theme and the ethos behind it, without changing everything. Rotating toys, and storing the rest, so that children are not overwhelmed by choice, is a good way to incorporate the more simple lifestyle without ditching everything you have built up over years.
Some critics also warn that a full movement to very beige environments might not be stimulating enough for the younger learners, and encourage keeping some colour. The need, perhaps, for a balance between the previous overstimulating and overly busy wall displays, and the newer, potentially overly bland, minimalist walls which can lack any inspiration for curious toddler minds!
We love seeing images of your nursery environments, whatever your theme, so do share them all with us!
Outdoors in every weather
Another popular trend is for being outdoors even more, no matter what the weather forecast holds. For some settings there are specialised Forest Schools type sessions, and in others there is a whole-setting focus on being outdoors in nature as much as you can. Being at one with nature, and allowing children to explore while learning to manage risk, has many benefits for young children and parents are often relieved to hear their child has been out all day being active. For busy parents who may give their child some screen time so that they can cook dinner in peace, a day of outdoor learning can feel like the perfect antidote and balance for growing minds and alleviates any possible guilt in our 21st Century lives!
For city centre nursery settings and childminders, outdoor living may be harder than for those with bountiful spaces, which is where the aforementioned natural trend can help with bringing that outside world indoors, and giving children opportunities to play and explore with natural materials and real world connection. Getting out as often as possible to the local park or woodland, if walkable, is a great way to explore new environments too. Many of our customers are using offline mode in the eylog app to capture all that fantastic outdoor learning too!
We have also heard of more nurseries being purpose built with technology infrastructure to prepare children for the 21st Century, which may seem in total contrast to the forest school and hygge trends but can often provide a combination and balance which provides a ‘best of all worlds’ approach to early years. Technology can help to encourage early communication in new ways, and some settings are embracing that wholeheartedly with ‘talking’ displays, sound buttons and other devices designed to allow children to mimic the technology they see in the ‘real world’ as part of their exploration of the understanding of the world.
What do we think about all these trends?
We find them all fascinating really! We never judge any nursery for their choices but love to see that there is choice out there for parents and we know that every setting does what they feel is best for the families and children they support. We have no favourites but we do love seeing how new research and sharing of practice helps people to find that ethos which matches theirs, and can build on those great ideas for their own settings. Continue to share all the wonderful environments you are creating as we love to see them!