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What is Hygge? (pronounced hue-guh)

The term Hygge originated in old Norwegian, where it meant something like "well-being." It first appeared in Danish writing around the end of the 18th Century and the Danes have embraced it ever since. One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere. But hygge isn’t just a word; it’s a concept, and as such, there’s really no direct translation.  Hygge is about cosiness and surrounding yourself with the things that make life good, like friendship, laughter and security, as well as more concrete things like warmth, light and good food.  Hygge is a feeling and as such directly impacts on happiness.  This is where we see this impact for our children and school team.  The better we know ourselves and the better we feel, the more we can learn and remember.  This sets our children up with the very best to succeed at Appleton Thorn and do well in the future.  

How have we adapted this idea of Hygge at ATP?

Schools in Denmark have been practicing this philosophy for quite some time. From kindergarten through high school, one hour of every school week is set aside for klassen time, which translates to “the class’s hour.” Each week children take turns bringing cake to share with the class. The children spend an hour talking through issues and solving them together over cake. Once they’ve resolved the issues, they spend the rest of the hour just hanging out, or “hygge-ing.” This core function of the curriculum helps children develop a sense of empathy and togetherness.

Our Hygge decor is intended to promote a sense of calm and peace in our space. Since we make sense of, our experiences and environment through the use of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, it may come as no surprise that creating a cosy space would help us feel less anxious and promote a sense of emotional well-being and safety. These feelings of comfort and safety can better allow us, and those sharing the space with us, to let down our guards and be more present and open to connecting with one another.

The heart of hygge is about fostering a sense of warmth and community—much like the environment we try to create for our children. It’s something that helps pupils relax, find comfort, be together, and ultimately be inspired to learn.

Hygge is taking a yoga break

This may be taking a couple of minutes at the beginning of a lesson, breath work and finger yoga, to longer sessions both planned or unplanned.  What ever our children need at that moment in time. 

Hygge is Forest School

There is something magical about being in nature. You cannot put it in words, but you feel it deep within – it touches your spirit. Just a few minutes of being in nature makes us feel healed and restored. Nature gives us strength, drains away all negative energy and fills us to the brim with positive energy.

Click here to learn more about forest school at Appleton Thorn.

Hygge in the Early Years

Our Early Years team members have undergone training to adapt our learning environments for our children. 

Hygge in the Early Years

Hygge is mindfulness

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Find out more about our mindfulness offer here.


Hygge is loving books

One of the best feelings in the world is when you get so enthralled in a book that you simply cannot put it down. For the time that you are reading a good book, you are not worried about your life and your problems, you are just concerned about the characters and what will happen next. You are a part of their world.

Hygge is comfort

Our children wear slippers or house shoes, this not only looks after our school environment as we have open muddy playtimes, but promotes a feeling of comfort and ease.

Within our school you will find...

  • Adults that view the environment through the eyes of the child.
  • Classrooms with neutral colour schemes
  • Quotes for inspiration and wellbeing
  • Children's favourite playlists
  • Streaming a crackling fire on screen
  • Children invited to create dens or cosy corners, with the use of drapes, voiles and blankets.
  • Thoughtful nooks and well-appointed retreats, position them away from the main traffic within your setting.
  • Places to retreat away from the hustle and bustle of the main movement of the setting, allowing children privacy to talk, chat and interact.
  • Plump cushions and blankets which enable children to get cosy when reading books or engaging in a provocation.
  • Well appointed twinkly lights to add a sense of magic and wonder
  • Lighting is soft and muted.
  • Artificial light is kept to a minimum, use of table or standard lamps
  • Reduction of noise levels, through soft furnishings.
  • A range of textures.
  • Opportunities to crawl inside a baby nest or enclosed area where they feel secure.
  • Seating where children can curl up with a nice book.
  • A weekly Klassens session where the class community talk about the sunshine list of the week and work through any difficulties they have faced together over a warm drink and crackling fireplace on the screen. 

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