News in Applied Research: University – College Partnership Exceeds Expectations
January 17, 2013
The following has been released by Mount Saint Vincent University
January 16, 2013. Halifax, N.S. – In March 2012, Mount Saint Vincent University (The Mount) and Holland College began a project to improve the design of the play space within the College’s Early Learning Centre (HCELC). Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Assistant Professor in the Child & Youth Study department and an expert in outdoor play, worked closely with Dr. Audrey Penner, Director of Applied Research and the HCELC faculty and staff to think differently about the outdoor space and to ultimately transform the space to maximize children’s learning, growth and development experiences.
The project had four phases: identifying a philosophy for the outdoor play space, including programming; applying that philosophy in developing a workable design; testing the play space design with a theoretical framework; and connecting the proposed outdoor play model with early childhood communities (parents, early childhood educators, government etc.). Over several months, Dr. Dietze worked with HCELC staff, parents of children who attend the Center, and the faculty members who teach in the college’s Early Child Education program to develop the optimal outdoor play model for the HCELC. “The model focused on the relationship of outdoor play to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of young children,” says Dr. Dietze.
“Prior to establishing a partnership with the Mount, we thought significant funds would be required to improve their outdoor play space” says Dr. Penner. “As it turns out, with Dr. Dietze’s help, we were able to dramatically transform the play space with minimal cost.”
Armed with a new model for outdoor play, staff members continue to make significant changes to an outdoor play space that now provides young children the freedom to explore nature, run, climb, take risks and engage in experiences that lead them to deeper problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity and discovery learning.
Building on this success, the Mount and Holland College are currently exploring opportunities to develop curriculum for the HCELC.
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