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Designed environments for young children: Empirical findings and implications for planning and design

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University of Sydney
Moore, Gary
Publication Date: 
1 Jul 2001


In this paper Moore discusses the impact of the physical environment in early childhood educational settings, citing specific findings from a number of studies, and describing ten principles for the architecture of early childhood development.

This paper focuses on the advances in understanding the nature of developmentally appropriate architecture for preschool children. The Honourable Laila Horne (2001) in her earlier keynote paper highlighted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the importance of quality in pre- and after-school programs including kindergartens. This paper expands on that theme. It draws upon Moore's and others' research over some 20+ years in an attempt to highlight principles and patterns for the design of early childhood centres including child care centres, nurseries, nursery schools, preschools, kindergartens and other forms of centres catering for development needs of preschool children.

Research has indicated that the physical planned and designed environment has an impact on a range of developmental behaviours. Moore's own research has demonstrated that the quality of the physical planned and designed environment of early childhood centres has an impact specifically on cognitive and social developmental behaviours. While the primary variables in the overall quality of care are the number of children, child-adult ratios, curriculum and the belief system of the teachers, it is now also known that higher quality preschool education particularly in the social and cognitive spheres occurs when the architecture is appropriate. In short, the quality of preschool education is in part related to the quality of the architecturally planned and designed physical environment.

Entered Date: 
20 Jun 2008
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