The Reggio Emilia School-inspired curriculum used in King School’s Prekindergarten considers the classroom environment a third “teacher.” Students in these classes have had access to a collection of outdoor spaces at King, but did not have a permanent area of their own that could serve as an outdoor classroom and remain in place throughout the school year.
With that in mind, Prekindergarten teacher Jennifer Agro, Head of Lower School Dr. Sandy Lizaire-Duff, Chief Financial and Operating Officer Stephen Schafer, and Director of Campus Operations Robert Miller put their heads together to create something that Prekindergareten students could call their own.
Referred to as “The Backyard” by students the new area is located behind the Prekindergarten classrooms and features blocks, tree stumps, ladders, buckets, and movable slides and bridges. A new fence lines the perimeter helping to define and secure the environment.
“The children love the space,” said Agro. “They really appreciate having a space that is their own and which is as magical and malleable as their imaginations.”
Each Prekindergarten class uses the space daily at scheduled intervals. Because the curriculum emerges from the interest and insights of the students, students have access to the outdoor space at other times of the day too. It has become a sanctuary where they explore their imaginations through nature walks, book reading, shadow puppetry, and sensory play.
“This new outdoor space is really coming to life as the children assert their critical thinking, creativity, intellect, and whimsy,” Agro added. “It is constantly growing, changing, and adapting as they are, and it is quite something to watch as it plays out.”