Kindergarten environments – “The third teacher” 

The physical environment’s importance for the kindergarten’s pedagogical work 

Both architecture and the physical organisation of spaces often tell us who they are intended for, what attitudes we should have when we enter the space and what activities will take place there. This teaching programme is based on the idea of environment being the ‘third teacher’. The term ‘the third teacher’ has its origins in the philosophy of Reggio Emilia and reflects that the environment is more than just a context for the kindergarten’s pedagogical work. It influences, and it can be influenced, be it the kindergarten’s indoor environment, outdoor environment or extended outdoor environment. Through ECTE – DigiTools, you get to meet and explore such environments yourself in three different kindergartens based on educational videos, 360° simulators and suggested reflection questions. 

Indoor kindergarten environments

Kindergarten buildings are of different ages, and some of them were built precisely with the intention that they would accommodate a kindergarten, while others originally had other uses. Of course, this has consequences for the physical framework conditions and for how spaces must be adapted in order to function in the kindergarten’s pedagogical work. In this part of ECTE – DigiTools, some general principles and analytical tools are presented that may be useful when planning and adapting indoor kindergarten environments.  

Outdoor kindergarten environments 

The starting points for outdoor kindergarten environments can be very different, depending on the location and the characteristics of the outdoor area. Nature kindergartens, farm kindergartens, rural kindergartens and urban kindergartens all have different requirements, and in this part of ECTE – DigiTools, you will get an insight into how an urban kindergarten has solved the lack of ground-level space by using the building’s roof as an outdoor environment. The theoretical perspectives presented are not specifically aimed at this solution, but will be able to contribute to the work of developing good outdoor spaces that can safeguard children’s participation, exploration, play and learning, regardless of location.

Extended outdoor kindergarten environments

Kindergartens often have little influence on how the kindergarten’s local environment is designed. The use of the extended outdoor area around a kindergarten is therefore very much about seeing opportunities and dealing with the limitations that exist there. In this part of ECTE – DigiTools, you will gain insight into how a centrally located kindergarten has utilised the extended outdoor area around the kindergarten in order to facilitate children’s exploration, play and learning.

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