You are the parent of a toddler and you’re looking for a day care centre, preschool or kindergarten for your son. There are plenty of factors to consider such as the staff, budget, distance from home, educational philosophy and of course, curriculum. One thing that parents often overlook however, is the facilities and design of learning spaces.We have written plenty of blogs covering general things to look for when choosing a preschool, kindergarten or day care centre but there isn’t as much information about early learning space requirements. Here are four things to look for when choosing an early learning centre for your son.
“What is in a space, a room or a yard, and how it is arranged can affect the behaviour of people; it can make it easier to act in certain kinds of ways, harder to act in others ...”
Kritchevsky and Prescott
Safe but vibrant play areas
Safety is important to every parent but a great early learning centre also has vibrant play areas that fosters a child’s natural curiosity and energy. Look for outdoor playgrounds with soft fall areas, age appropriate climbing and play equipment, as well as open and undercover play areas. At Scots, we believe that play-based learning is essential for social, emotional and cognitive development, therefore the environment must support this curriculum approach. Other simple things to consider include good lighting, visibility and ventilation.
Well designed and focused spaces
When you tour an early childhood centre, look for well planned and designed learning spaces. It shouldn’t feel cluttered and each area should have a clear focus and purpose. If it’s a reading corner, is it quiet with comfortable seats for your son to become absorbed in a great story? If it’s a play area is there enough space, interest and materials for children to explore and have adventures that challenge their thinking?
A sense of belonging and purpose
For children to feel safe enough to explore freely, an early years learning environment needs to create a sense of belonging and purpose. Learning spaces displaying colourful artwork and dedicated areas for different groups will help your son to feel that there is a purpose to each space and that he belongs there. Consistency is important – too much change with room layout or rules can create uncertainty. Another thing to look for is furniture that ‘fits’ the children. Are the chairs and desks at an appropriate height for the age group? Is the layout too cluttered or too bare?
A connection to the real world
It’s important that the learning happens through hands-on real world activities. Experiential learning – or learning by doing – is a focus at The Scots College and a natural extension of play-based learning. Signs of engaging real world settings are things like a garden that students help to look after, cooking activities and stimulating technology use. It’s a good idea to ask if they use a particular approach to teaching such as the Reggio Emilia approach that promotes a real world connection.
Well-designed early learning spaces enhance child development and program quality. Young children learn through play by exploring and interacting with their environment – both social and physical. Your son needs classrooms and outdoor play spaces that set the stage and create the context for the wondrous learning that will take place.
Download our EYC prospectus, to look into the lives of our youngest students.