When we design the classrooms in our childcare centres in the Perth area, we keep a very close eye on function and how the design provides opportunities for children to learn. Although our model is more of a day care model than a traditional Perth classroom model, we still design our facilities to help your child learn while playing.
While our “learning through play” model is contemporary, the definitive work on the relationship between classroom design and learning comes from 1969, when Sybil Kritchevsky and Elizabeth Prescott conducted an analysis of childcare settings that were prevalent in the 1960’s. Through their observations, Kritchevsky and Prescott were able to demonstrate how the classroom environment has a direct effect on the behaviour of teachers and children.
They then took their conclusions a step further and demonstrated how teachers can alter the teaching environment to become more effective and to solve problems. They also came up with a concept that was unheard of then but so influential that it is still used today: designing the child care environment based on the needs of the children in its care.
Kritchevsky and Prescott created the concept of “play units” which are measured by their variety, complexity and choices presented to the child. Simple play units are those with only one obvious use, such as a tricycle or a swing. Complex play units have more than one use or play material, though a single use material that encourages improvisation is also seen as a complex unit. A super play unit is a complex unit with one or more extra materials.
An effective design should include all three types of play units and should be in a well-organised space. Children should have clear, easy paths to go from one unit to another. Teachers are there to encourage and help, but children should be free to learn and play on their own.
Contact Cuddles Childcare Centres to learn more.