Soon, we will see a lot of action across the front and eastern sides of our school. Built in 1966, the original part of our building has been “urging” us for necessary upgrades for many years. This is the third full-scale school construction/renovation project for me as a school leader and the second comprehensive kindergarten design. It is a privilege to play a role in shaping this project as, together, we make important decisions for the next generation f Matthews Hall students.
While kindergarten children are the littlest in a school, it would be a mistake to assume that they need the littlest spaces! In reality, our youngest students require very specialized and carefully planned space in which to learn through active play, experimentation, and interaction. A casual visit to any early primary classroom will reveal a need for larger pieces of furniture, larger structures-in-progress, larger multi-layered teaching zones, and clearer sightlines that promote active and safe learning.
There are several important classroom design principles that have guided our plan for new kindergarten space and I am confident that our new facility will set the standard. Along with our attentive team at a+LiNK architects, we have addressed the most important of these principles recognizing that:
- Fencing young children in is not a good idea! An open structure layout is an important kindergarten design principle, which we will achieve with our new facility.
- A variety of shapes, forms, and textures are another key classroom design principle. The creation of contrasts in our new space will help children to discover and experience the high and low, big and small, different shapes, different depths and different textures.
- We have planned to use colour, outside and inside, to foster children’s learning. The correct use of colour in our new space will seriously affect feelings, attention, and behaviour when learning. When it comes to kindergarten classroom design, it is important to know that different colours define different meaning and mood.
- When designing our kindergarten, safety has been our most important classroom design principle. Every care has been taken to ensure that the classroom will be safe, as well as explorable, so that children will be able to move about freely without risk.
- We have also considered an eco-friendly environment. It is not the main principle in our kindergarten classroom design, but we are seeking to ensure a positive impact on our environment by making appropriate decisions along the way.
- We are working hard to keep in mind a child’s viewpoint of scale, circulation, and comfort when planning for all the classroom elements. For example, lower visual horizons have meaning and relevance to kids, and we are renovating with this in mind.
- As adults we often look for privacy, but so do our children. Our new space will also accommodate flexible reduced-scaled spaces that respect a need for privacy.
As with any reno, the pain will be worth the gain. The big winners will surely be the kids and their teachers who we will honour with long overdue improvement to the space – a space where each of them spends the majority of their time in a given week during the school year.
They deserve the best we can provide and I am excited for what lies ahead!
Ric Anderson, Head of School