It’s well-known that children learn not only in the classroom but also outside – on the playground. ‘Play’ is often thought of as an activity that is separate to learning and should happen in specific areas or under specific conditions. However, research shows that play is crucial to early childhood development and that outdoor environments must be appropriately designed to encourage learning through play.

We asked Square One to explain the benefits of playscapes and learning through play and to share some of the facts about these crucial educational environments. Here’s what they had to say about bringing learning to the landscape:

Not all playgrounds provide children with appropriate learning and development opportunities.

Children are drawn towards interesting, well designed and unique play environments, and stock standard play areas often become neglected and abused. Child centred playgrounds which focus on encouraging development through play, allow children to learn and develop emotionally, socially and cognitively. Interactive landscapes allow children to engage with science, mechanics and ecology through tactile, hands-on experiences.

Darling Quarter Kids Playground, Sydney, Australia

Darling Quarter Kids Playground, Sydney, Australia
Splash parks and interactive play equipment allows children to engage with physics and mechanics.

Play spaces need to be integrated into the landscape to allow children to learn from the environment.

At Square One Landscape Architects, we look at design holistically. We analyse the environment to gain an understanding of influences such as wind, water, sun, shade, topography and soils. The programming and potential uses of the space as well as social, historical and aesthetic characteristics are considered to produce a custom designed and appropriate play environment that stimulates learning and imaginative play.

Ken Fletcher Park, Brisbane, Australia

Ken Fletcher Park, Brisbane, Australia:
Ecological play design enables children to learn about biology, science and stewardship through sensory engagement with nature.

In addition to developing important physical skills, children’s interaction within the playground teaches them important social skills, crucial to their understanding of the world and their surroundings.

We understand the particular elements that are important in the design of playgrounds, linked to child psychology and development, and we are able to produce playscapes that enhance the learning environment and increase the attractiveness of the school to prospective students, teachers and parents.

In addition, first impressions are important when it comes to encouraging parents to enrol their children at a school.

A parent wants to feel confident about the school’s environment. They’ll look at what your school has to offer – the level of care, safety and the opportunities for their children to be physically and mentally engaged. It’s, therefore, essential that your school provides a productive, interactive and well-designed play environment for your students.

Terra Nova Play Experience, Richmond, Canada

Terra Nova Play Experience, Richmond, Canada
Playscapes allow children to test their physical and developmental skills in a fun and exciting environment.

SchoolAdvisor’s ten cents

What a refreshing take on learning. We love the idea of ‘playscapes’. SchoolAdvisor believes that education through play can be a powerful tool for schools. Have you ever considered using play as a learning tool? If you are interested in finding out more, view Square One’s listing on SchoolAdvisor and check out their site.