For the past few months, the common thread of COVID-19 has changed all our lives. Through this change, we’ve discovered many things about our children, work, and ourselves. Admittedly, the learning curve has been sharp and steep. We’ve learned about working remotely, becoming our children’s teachers and transforming living rooms into classrooms, and keeping our loved ones close even though they are many miles away. Perhaps, we have also learned to let go of the small stuff and have come to realize that leaving the dirty dishes in the sink, having cereal for dinner, or not making the bed once in a while won’t necessarily result in complete family disaster. Yet, undoubtedly there have been a few times that may feel like we want to crawl under our bed covers and hide out. The same is true for children.
Even before COVID-19, there has always been an acknowledgment and understanding of children’s need to seek refuge from a grown-up society. Who doesn’t remember making the kitchen table into a tent? Who doesn’t recall finding refuge under a bed? Who hasn’t found the perfect hiding place behind the clothes in a closet? Who doesn’t revel in a secret hideaway known only to you? For young children, there is importance in hiding out, of finding a place that is just the right size, of making the hideout all their own, or of discovering a secret world removed from adults and bothersome siblings.
Young children need places to hide away, play in solitude, and discover themselves. It is through this discovery of self that additional discoveries emerge such as respect for space as well as respect for others. Most importantly, however, these hideaway spaces give children a feeling of safety and security in these times of uncertainty. There are many kinds of hideaways including under the bed, behind a bush, or in a closet. There’s also forts, playhouses, castles, treehouses, and makeshift dens. One idea for creating simple hideaways for young children is with tents.
Tent Hideaways. Children have the uncanny ability to find hideaways in the most improbable spaces—at least to the adult. This innate ability may be because of their height, which is low to the ground allowing children to see the world from a different perspective. It may be because of their small size, which allows them to squeeze into tiny spaces inaccessible by adults. No matter what, they instinctively seek out hideaways. There are many types of tents that make great hideaways such as pop-ups, teepees, and camping tents. But, the greatest, most spectacular tent is made from a blanket or bed sheet and any ole’ place your child can find. All you have to do is supply the fabric and your child will supply the engineering and the imagination.
What a child wants to do most of all is to make a world in which to find a place to discover a self. Edith Cobb (1969)