There is no doubt in the minds of educators, parents, and researchers that outdoor play improves a child's physical development.
When children play outdoors, they increase their ability to balance, jump, climb, throw, run, and skip. For our youngest learners to thrive, it is important that outdoor play spaces feel open-ended and allow for active exploration and different types of play.
It is with this in mind that our new Early Learning Centre playground was designed.
Boosts wellbeing and cognitive development
Science proves that being amongst greenery, sunshine, and fresh air is beneficial for improved wellbeing. Having an unstructured environment where children are free to roam, explore, and play in, is vital for their development. Being outdoors stimulates creativity, reduces feelings of tension, and invites children to absorb information through all of their five senses; sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.
Children bring their own meaning to outdoor elements, where sticks become magic wands, seeds and seed pods become food in the play kitchen, and different areas in the yard become magical wonderlands of their own. Unstructured play amongst the outdoors allows children to invent games with what is around them, which teaches them to be self-motivated, resourceful, creative, and communicate their ideas.
Freedom to engage in physical development
Outdoor play spaces allow children to move around fully and freely. In our new playground, students can ride tricycles around the rubber road network, and they can run, leap, jump, and climb on the latest equipment, including balance boards and climbing webs. Having an ample open outdoor space allows children to engage in games that involve ball-throwing, chasing each other, and carrying large objects such as buckets of sand. This builds their gross motor skills such as coordination, agility, and balance, as well as developing strength and overall fitness.
Promoting environmental awareness
It is essential that children connect with the outdoors so that they can understand and respect our environment. Children will be able to tend to our new vegetable patches and garden each day and practice being patient while also learning about sustainability. Children will be able to observe changes in their environment throughout the year, such as when plants grow, when they require watering, when flowers bloom during the year, or when leaves on trees change seasonally.
The learning environment is important
When students' ideas, interests, and identity is valued and reflected in their learning environment, they are more likely to thrive. At Toorak College, we aim to create environments that are inviting, stimulating, and reflective of the students' interests - vibrant with colour and natural light, and culturally representative of our students.
The new outdoor playground features cubby houses designed as beach boxes, reflecting Toorak's involvement with the local community and our location by the beach. Wooden boardwalks traverse the courtyard and create sunken playspaces and gardens for lush plant-life to grow beneath them - a representation of the scenic bushlands, and trail walks across the Mornington Peninsula. As well as this, the new yard has sandpits, vegetable patches, a bamboo forest, outdoor music elements, a lego wall, and a fairy garden for students to have a range of diverse spaces for them to discover what interests them. All of these settings for our students encourage them to feel connected to the land and continually learn from the ever-evolving environment.
Upon returning to the Early Learning Centre in Term 2, our students were excited to discover their new space, and we look forward to witnessing all that it will offer throughout the rest of the year and beyond.
Discover what makes Toorak College unique by attending our tours and prospective parent information evenings. Visit us!