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Physical environment key to success at Goodstart Gladstone

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Using the outdoor environment to support quality teaching and learning is the aim of the team at Goodstart Gladstone Beak Street.

In a well-established, older-style building at Gladstone, centre director Nicole Sanders said their large, unusual outdoor area was perfect for extending learning and supporting socio-dramatic play and construction.

“We’re lucky in that we have a beautiful outdoor environment with lots of native trees and grass, so we take advantage of this and add new learning spaces all the time,” Ms Sanders said.

She said while the centre hasn’t had an official renovation, the team use any funding they apply for and receive to build garden beds and, create vegetable patches, digging pits and water play area.

“We’ve also added the bike track, we did all the stepping stone pavers around the digging pit ourselves and added the vegetable gardens,” Ms Sanders said.

“We are also constantly adding native plants to our environment and last year created a learning experience around native trees and birds.”

The kindergarten early childhood teacher, Sara Kohmenko, signed up for an online bird watching experience with the kindergarten children which involved identifying, tracking and studying birds.

“The children showed a real interest in the birds, so we responded to that by allowing the children to use their physical environment to extend on their numeracy and literacy skills through the online program,” Ms Sanders said.

“It offered the children a flexible, creative environment in which to learn and taught them about the importance of considering the flora and fauna around them.”

Learning environments through the centre are changed regularly and new dramatic play areas introduced regularly.

She said the team set up play spaces which were purposeful and intentional, and added resources during the exercise. The number of children taking part in the experience was considered, as were the expectations and learning outcomes.

“We have educators in place to guide and support the children, but we do try to encourage them to be capable learners who can use the environments independently.

Goodstart general manager pedagogy and practice Sue Robb said the team at Gladstone were great at making the most of the resources they had on offer.

“They critically reflect about how best to design and set out learning opportunities to achieve the most benefit to children’s learning and development,” Ms Robb said.

She said well-designed, reflective, effective child-centered enabling environments supported quality teaching and learning and were a key element of the Early Years Learning Framework and a focus of the National Quality Standards.
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