New Research Summary on Outdoor Play Spaces at Childcare Centers

Image of Buffalo PS90 courtesy Joy Kuebler

If you’re relatively new to this blog, then you may not yet have heard me rave (in a positive way) about InformeDesign. This is one of the best resources for evidence-based design (EBD), and it’s still free, and you can sign up to have new research summaries emailed to you.

One summary this week that seems particularly appropriate to the Therapeutic Landscapes Network is of an article by Susan Harrington, “Perspectives from the Ground: Early Childhood Educators’ Perceptions of Outdoor Play Spaces at Child Care Centers.”

Previous studies have indicated that outdoor play spaces have the potential to support physical, emotional, and social growth in children, and the author chose to focus on Canadian outdoor splay spaces, from the point of view of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs).

The finding that most interested me was that outdoor play spaces with plants got more positive comments than those with no or little vegetation. Furthermore, ECEs working at centers with vegetation tended to make more positive comments about seasonal change (fall color, plant cycles, etc.) than those in centers with no vegetation, where comments regarding seasonal change were more negative (hot asphalt and slides, wet equipment, etc.). Cue all landscape architects, designers, and plant-lovers whispering “yes!” in victorious unison.

And for those of you who are especially interested in children’s play environments, I’ll also call your attention to a recent blog post by Shawna Coronado on creating gardens for children: “Fantasizing About Spring: A Garden Built for a Child.” Lots more information on the TLN’s Get Out and Play! page as well.

Full citation: Harrington, Susan (2008). “Perspectives from the Ground: Early Childhood Educators’ Perceptions of Outdoor Play Spaces at Child Care Centers.” Children, Youth and Environments, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 64-87.

The image above is of Buffalo (NY) Public School 90 Early Childhood Science Center Magnet, designed by Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect. It was featured last month on Playscapes, a great blog about playground design.