The physical outdoor play space is vital for bringing intrigue to children’s play. Early learning teachers:
- Invest a significant amount of time planning the space, organizing resources, and supporting children in connecting with the peers and materials within the space.
- Recognize when resources/materials are not correct and if the outdoor play space is not carefully and intentionally planned, limited types of play occur.
Most provincial and territorial governments provide minimal space guidelines for early learning programs. These are minimum guidelines. Advocates of quality outdoor play spaces suggest that the outdoor play spaces guidelines be increased so that children have sufficient space and opportunities to experience a variety of play experiences including, but not limited to, blocks, science, math, literacy, physical play, and dramatic play.
There are varying perspectives on design features for effective outdoor play spaces. The best designs are derived from early learning teachers and children thinking about what they want in the space, how the space will and can be used and the features that are inherent in the space. Ideally, the space will allow children to have places where they can do many things. Look at the photos below. What are your first impressions of the spaces?
Now look at the types of experiences in the graphic below and then determine what and how outdoor play spaces can accommodate these types of experiences.
Think about outdoor play spaces that you have observed, then reflect on the questions below. What are your perspectives on these questions?
|How does the outdoor play space support children’s options for diversity in their play?|
|What play considerations are used to guide your practice during the outdoor play programming?|
|What role do children have in planning the outdoor play space?|
|How do the children access the various outdoor experience centres? Do they have specific time for each centre or are they able to stay at one centre until they have determined they have an interest in another area?|
|How does the outdoor play space support or detract from positive play engagement?|
|How does the outdoor play space support children in experiencing competency in their play?|
|How does the outdoor play space support and engage children in their space?|
|How does the outdoor play space accommodate inclusive play practices?|
Adapted from Dietze & Kashin (2012).
As you examine each of the perspectives presented, what resonates with you in relation to your philosophy, ideals and aspirations for children? Record your ideas in the Comments box below.