INDOOR SPACES IN CHILDCARE SETTINGS
Indoor play spaces provide their own challenges for educators who have little time to reorganise rooms and furniture during a busy childcare day. Some basic notions apply to assist in setting up appropriate play spaces.
Naturally, a range of safety rules and expectations apply to indoor play, just as they do for outdoor areas. Educators must adhere to the rules and be compliant in their daily work with young children wherever they are located.
What do indoor play spaces need to do?
Some elements are common to both indoor and outdoor spaces, however, there are some differences. Like outdoor spaces, indoor play areas should;
- Allow for safe age-appropriate play and visual supervision
- Include natural light as much as possible for young brain development
- Enable fresh airflow and cross ventilation
- Have connected indoor and outdoor spaces with ready access between them
- Have a variety of built and natural features in the space
- Meet the needs of everyone who uses it regardless of age or capability
- Embrace sustainability in choices of materials and promote eco-awareness
- Have spaces to accommodate
- Individuals/small groups working/interacting undisrupted
- Children functioning autonomously
- Messy and loud play
- Quiet or relaxation areas
- Verandah areas for inclement weather play or other covered areas for sun-safe experiences
- More complex thinking and physical activities (in inclement weather)
- Children connecting with each other and the adults working with them
- Provide challenge and stimulation, and have the right number and variety of age-appropriate resources available for self-selection – often multiples of each item
- Be able to be arranged by children so they can explore, risk taking, solve problems, create and construct using their own ideas, and practice decision-making processes – all necessary life skills to practice.
Other elements to consider include indoor play spaces that:
- Are welcoming for all who visit
- Provide a sense of belonging
- Reflect the diversity and interests of those who use it
- Support educators in their roles
- Facilitate relationships
- Are hygienic, fresh, and well maintained
- Support children achieving the 5 Learning Outcomes
- Have features and resources to provoke interest and more complex thinking
This list is not exhaustive as there are too many elements to include in this short article. The spaces created in a centre send clear messages to parents and children about how you approach education and care.