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Who's Doing All the Thinking?

by Jim Wike
July/August 2015
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/whos-doing-all-the-thinking/5022486/

Let me begin by acknowledging that the way interior spaces for early childhood programs are designed is vitally important to the well-being of children. It influences their behavior in positive or negative ways, depending on the appropriateness of the design; research bears that out. Research also supports the understanding that outdoor  environments influence behaviors in the same way interiors do. This is the primary focus of my article (although I promise I talk about indoor space design, too). 

If many outdoor preschool spaces were observed and we asked, “What was the initial purpose of this space conceived to be?” it’s clear that play has traditionally been the intended primary purpose. If, however, it’s also widely held that young children’s learning comes best through play, why are so many outdoor environments not intentionally designed to support learning as well?

I hope that is changing. I hope educators and designers alike are looking at both indoor and outdoor spaces as equally valuable learning laboratories . . . as fertile grounds for children’s imaginations, wonderings, ponderings, and experimentation — as places for them to explore their own inborn brilliance.

During a recent tour of two outdoor play spaces used by preschoolers in the same city, I was ...

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