The Connection Between Wellness and Achievement
Educators agree that student wellness and academic achievement share a critical relationship- as evidenced by research findings published recently by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). According to CASEL’s recent summary blog post of industry trends, 90% of secondary and elementary teachers agree that promoting Social Emotional Learning would improve their students’ outcomes.
Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, there’s been a recent surge in anxiety and depression reported among both students and teachers―which may be negatively impacting both teaching and learning.
A Wellness Room, however, can be an effective way to provide students and staff with opportunities to focus on self-care and developing healthy coping strategies while reducing stress and anxiety. Typically, the design of these spaces allows students and staff to experience a quiet atmosphere and have a chance to “reset.”
Students and staff alike need these moments to prepare their minds to learn- these spaces focus and restore attention. These spaces can also serve a critical role in supporting neurodiversity by providing a soothing atmosphere for mediation.
Tips for Designing an Inviting and Effective Wellness Room on Your Campus
As student and staff wellness needs continue to evolve in response to the COVID-19 endemic, many school leaders are looking to experts in learning space design for guidance on how to create relaxing and inclusive spaces for students and staff alike. Recognizing that an effective wellness room is more than a bunch of beanbag chairs and dim lighting, below are some helpful research-based tips for K-12 leaders charged with creating safe and welcoming spaces on campus for students and staff:
Welcome students back to campus with a safe, inviting place to avoid overstimulation and decrease anxiety. See how STS can help you create a wellness room even in a small space.
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Wellness Rooms- Ask an Educator
We tapped nationally recognized learning spaces expert Dr. Robert Dillon to answer some common questions about installing a wellness room.
What if the students enjoy the space too much and realize they can go there just to relax?
Expectations on how to use the space are essential to its success. Many students will want to remain in the space if it is more welcoming than their classroom spaces. It will be important to begin to shape your other spaces as well. Consider time and usage guidelines and design these with students.
How is the room to be used? Is this the same thing as the Nurse’s office?
The nurse’s office is a reactive space to support the medical needs of students. These spaces should become more proactive and provide support for a variety of social emotional needs of students. This room should have a clear purpose (which can be different for different schools), and it should stay in the realm of reset, refocus, and return to learning.
Can’t we just toss some bean bag chairs into an alcove in the library and use that space for stressed-out kids to decompress?
Soft seating like bean bags can actually have an opposite effect. Not everyone wants to lay on the floor or collapse into something unstructured when their world seems the same way. Music, lighting, visuals all can play a greater role than seating. It is important to create semi-private and private spaces to support the decompression needs of students. Stress can actually go up in lightly designed spaces.
Who is in charge of this space and how it’s utilized?
Supervision is essential, and it can be the greatest barrier. It must also be age appropriate supervision. Figuring out this plan before the space is designed is essential. Utilization needs to be tiered. Activities need to be available that provide a structured way to relax and reflect.
The following examples were prepared by Norva Nivel, an STS k-12 education furniture partner. Click the images below to see how you can create a wellness space to help students and staff rejuvenate, even if you have only a small or inconveniently shaped area to use.
Partnering with STS EDUCATION
Recently, STS worked with one local district to transform an outdated, worn and uninviting space into a calm atmosphere where students, teachers, administrators, and parents can address each other in comfort and tranquility.
STS EDUCATION is the Integrated Learning Spaces Specialist
At STS, our holistic approach to learning space design extends far beyond Wellness Rooms. To speak to one of our Integrated Learning Space Specialists today about other considered classroom modernization initiatives focused on helping propel your students towards even better academic outcomes including Esports programs, STEM labs, CTE/Maker spaces, outdoor classrooms, and media centers, contact us at 866-499-2580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.