Absolutely and far too often are simply relegated to the external area for children to let off steam or provide places to eat.
Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that a simulating outdoor environment enhances cognitive development, physical coordination and even social skills, by creating meeting places to cater for differing and specific groups within the school.
The old days of solely wall to wall asphalt marked with fading sports lines and the mandatory basketball ring are becoming a thing of the past, as the Schools Principles become aware of the different enhancing designs for the external school space
The traditional sport play spaces are essential but that may be only stimulating for certain students, leaving some others feeling alienated in a way that Principles and staff may not be aware of.
School grounds can be designed with a myriad of subtle and not so subtle stimulating activities, without sacrificing the traditional play spaces. For instance, Sound gardens, obstacles that simulate coordination between classrooms, quiet spaces and amphitheatres both large and small. Climbing walls and simple rope structures; all designed to cater for the many not just the few.
Often the children themselves can take part in the creative process, being asked to write or draw what they would like in the playgrounds. The answers can be startling.
A skilled designer will use that information, in consultation with the school decision makers, to create a plan for the future, for the school to grow into. For the children to grow and develop into
It is not just recreation whether it be highly active or more passive that is the key to a well-designed school ground. It is other considerations such as; where children have their lunch and recess outside. Is there sufficient seating and is shaded in summer, or allowing in the water light? Is the seating catering for different groups both large and small?
How to direct children in the direction you want them and not have them just take the shortest path or the path of least resistance, and how to make the journey between classes interesting or even stimulating.
Safety is paramount
For instance, there has been a new play ground opened in Eltham that while interesting to look at is highly dangerous and does not adequately cater for those with special needs.
While appearances are important, it is the user that must be catered for, so all love using the spaces