Design as a ‘third pedagogue’
A pedagogically designed space supports children in their sense of safety (I recognize this space and I can sit there quietly with a cuddly toy), and challenges them to develop further (oops, that’s a high tower, I can do that too or if we hang a rug here, the doll can sleep behind it).
At Hero we work with the Look & Feel project. This project is about appearance and about educational design. How much fun is it to have different corners per group for children where they can really play: think of a kitchen, a dolls, a costume, a house, a construction, a train, a baby, and a books -, corner. And there are probably more fun challenging ideas to think of. Not everything is possible, of course.. Consider the existing dimensions, the budget, and also sustainability, an important theme within Hero.
Sometimes there is room to change the position of the kitchen, or to remove a stage, and sometimes there is not. And sometimes you don’t have to. This also applies to the furniture: sometimes furniture can still be used, and something can be added. Hero’s pedagogical vision is also taken into account in these decisions.
Giving children the opportunity to make their own choices and to contribute themselves means that the toys are displayed in low open cupboards. This way children can choose themselves and clean up themselves. Sometimes, in groups with large age differences, it is possible to have a ground box. This way we can offer babies safety and, at the same time, involve them in the group. If drawings or crafts of children are displayed visibly, this can increase the feeling of being connected to the group. A low round children’s table, where children can play, tinker and puzzle together, offers more opportunities for children than always sitting at the high table.
It is quite a challenge to create more space in order to increase the possibilities for children. A sofa is comfortable, but it takes up a lot of space. Being able to sit comfortably with children is very important, but this can also be done in a ‘chill corner’. And then there will be a comfy chair to bottle-feed babies. Almost all groups have high tables with space for all children where they can eat and drink together. In almost every group there are 4 to 6 children who can and want to eat independently. They like to sit at their own table and play restaurant together.
Other choices in the design often also require a different method: sitting more on the floor, letting them choose and act more independently, and, for example, regularly changing toys and setting up corners in a challenging way, even before the children are in the group. The pedagogical coach can and will play a supporting role in this.