Classroom aesthetics count

Executing effective design and aesthetics of a kindergarten classroom takes targeted planning and informed critical judgement. Journalist Sara El Sayed explores the professional considerations made when designing a kindergarten classroom.

Kindergarten teachers and staff take a pedagogical approach to the design and aesthetics of their classrooms.

Teacher Deborah Mintern-Lane of Bald Hills Community Kindergarten in Queensland said her classroom environment reflects her teaching and service philosophies, theories of learning that align with those philosophies, and everyday practice.

“I take time to meet with my team and reflect on how children, families, educators and therapists interact with and participate in the environment.

“We also seek input from children and their families.

“We make very considered and intentional decisions to ensure the environment supports teaching and learning, including children’s sense of agency and inclusion."

Aesthetics send a message

Deborah said the aesthetics of the environment send signals to others about who is welcome.

“Each child, family member, educator, and visitor needs to feel a sense of welcome and belonging in order to feel comfortable, safe and secure in the space.

“Promoting a sense of safety and security is reflected in our service philosophy and theories such as attachment theory.

“We also think about learning theories relating to play, relationships, power, equity, environment as the third teacher, and loose parts.

“The learning space at our kindergarten reflects the diversity, play interests, and learning occurring within the program.

“Specific resources and spaces have been planned to support inclusion and access with individual children’s support needs in mind.

“Relationships and supporting social interactions are a key focus.

“Observing how children interact and engage with particular items in the classroom or outdoor learning space helps us as professionals to research and understand the child’s experience and learning.

“Including multiple perspectives when observing can gain greater insights.

“For example, I shared video recorded observations with a child’s parents and our educators in order to gain greater understanding of the child’s emotional response to an area of the environment.

Observing how children interact and engage with particular items in the classroom or outdoor learning space helps us as professionals to research and understand the child’s experience and learning.

“Through collaboration, and use of technology, we were able to reflect and plan further to support the child’s learning and participation in the environment.”

More recently, Bald Hills Kindergarten has increased the variety of sensory input resources and provisions within the learning environment.

“We have found resources such as the hanging pod and pea pod chairs to offer a very calming sensory input experience for individual children, and in the past we have established vertical sensory gardens,” Deborah said.

Don’t be left out of pocket

While the aesthetics and design of a classroom are clearly of great importance and integral to holistic learning in the early childhood education setting, resourcing classrooms often comes at a personal cost to teachers and centre staff.

While many kindergarten staff are resourceful in their efforts to design and maintain their centres, ultimately there is a cost to be paid – both in monetary terms and in time spent organising, planning and preparing the environment for the children’s use.

IEUA-QNT Organiser Nicole Carlill said staff who are feeling in need of support to properly resource their kindergarten environments should not hesitate in contacting their Union for advice about how to word communication to the relevant personnel.

“This is a benefit of union membership that can sometimes be overlooked.

“We are here to support our members in communicating to their employers what is needed for the operation of their early childhood education service,” Nicole said.

Contact your Union

Queensland and Northern Territory members can contact their organiser on freecall 1800 177 937 and NSW/ACT members can contact their organiser on freecall 1800 467 943 for further advice on gaining support for kindergarten, preschool and long day care resources.