The Essentials of Early Learning Center Design – Part Three (Encourage Interaction)
The next installment in my series on the essentials of early learning center design has to do with children’s desire to connect with their peers. Thus, part of the designer’s challenge is to create a space that furthers the early learner’s natural movement toward interaction (and play).
In the traditional classroom, children sit in rows and listen. That’s not very effective anymore. The new early learning center is a place of discovery where students learn and grow together.
A flexible floor plan allows the space to shift from a traditional layout to a completely open space with barrier-free interaction. This “learning habitat” also enables various arrangements between those extremes. The example above, customized to three- to five-year-olds, inspires learning prior to the formalization of the educational environment. The open area gives young learners more opportunities for movement and new kinds of interaction.
The proposed movable partitions in the above concept enhance the sense of community within the early learning center. They enable students to see movement in other rooms. However, the translucent film on the partitions blurs views enough so students don’t lose focus. When teachers want to expand space, they simply move the partitions. This gives the youngest learners a sense of belonging, whether it’s to a smaller group or part of a larger community.