As you probably know, I advocate for building a family and child-centric culture based on inspiring collaborative efforts. We aim for child-led, play-based program excellence. The importance of the right physical environment cannot be under-stated. We follow the research from leading organizations in order to stay on track with the best possible ideas and practices for early child care.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education publishes perspectives on the importance of the physical space in learning. The School offers programs of study for educators and architects, the goal of which is “to collaborate with (these professionals) from around the world to apply principles of effective pedagogy and design to physical learning environment projects.”
In their own words: “Physical spaces have an enormous impact on learners’ experiences. Building layouts can create opportunities for new relationships among students, staff, and the community. Furniture arrangements in classrooms and hallways can foster planned collaboration and spontaneous informal learning among students. Day-lighting, learning commons, and natural materials can create a sense of place and connection.”
The Harvard School of Education’s approach informs our own because we value leading-edge research. Kids@ Churchill Park agrees that whether it’s “small-scale classroom remodeling or large-scale school planning,” we need to truly understand our learners’ needs in order to optimize their educational environment. We have always maintained a low child-to-staff ratio. This sets the stage for high quality interactions between little ones and educators that helps us understand their needs and promote their well-being. And by also keeping the lines of communication open with you – our children’s families – we understand even more!
With your continued input, we’ve taken the opportunity during the COVID-19 shutdown to re-imagine our spaces for the children. With the research in mind, our centres now feature more daylight than ever before, soft outdoor accents and the walls have been painted with fresh coats of neutral colours like off-whites and warm greys.
These natural-feeling spaces create calm, relaxing and nurturing settings that are ideal for play-based learning. The surroundings do not distract from the focus on group interaction. We’ve de-cluttered the centres to promote purposeful play. Some of our child care centres also feature access to gyms and outdoor play areas. These, too, have been streamlined for safety and to promote better learning opportunities for the children.
Photo: From Harvard School of Education’s website promoting “Learning Environments for Tomorrow: Next Practices for Educators & Architects,” a program for professionals, worldwide.