Shepherd and Robertson (2012) believe that ‘messages are conveyed through the organisation of the environment, structures and fittings’ (p. 225).
In our recent Assessment & Rating (Jan 2017), Killara Kids was awarded an overall rating of Exceeding the National Quality Framework. Although we were very pleased with this result, we are always looking for ways to improve our service & the quality of care we provide each day.
In our Assessment & Rating we received “meeting” in regard to Quality Area 3: Physical Environment. Killara Kids uses many shared spaces around the school, meaning that play spaces & activities were rarely set-up before the children arrived in the mornings & afternoons.
The educators started to notice at 3:15pm when the children would arrive at Killara Kids, some children did not want afternoon tea yet, many just wanted to play.
We brainstormed about what ways we could encourage this participation as well as how we could improve our rating in Quality Area 3. We focused on standard 3.2.1 Outdoor & Indoor spaces are designed and organised to engage every child in quality experience in both build & natural environments. We decided we would set-up some activity areas & spaces before the children arrived, in the hope this would allow them to seamlessly transition from school to play.
When setting up these play spaces educators reflected on:
- What are the children’s current interests, hobbies & play choices
- Does the environment allow the children to make choices & take control?
- Do the environments help support the children to feel safe & cared for?
- How do the environments at KK ensure all children feel recognised & included in the program?
By reflecting on these sorts of questions we were able to ensure we were putting the child & their wellbeing first. An example of this could be seen one afternoon when educators set up chess boards in an area of Killara Kids. As the children came in, more and more children wanted to play, so the educators set up more chess boards throughout the centre to allow all children to participate in the program. By reflecting on whether the environment is meeting the needs of the children we are better able to plan for the future and ensure children are engaged.