IAKS Nordic webinar on 28 September: Thinking outside the classroom - recording available
"Transforming schoolyards into dynamic environments for learning, growing, and playing"
On 28 September 2023, IAKS Nordic invited researchers and practitioners from Denmark and Norway to share latest knowledge on schoolyard design. Over 300 participants from around the world followed the invitation and can now “think outside the classroom” thanks to the key takeaways provided in the webinar. The recording is available for free for IAKS members.
In a swiftly changing world marked by reduced outdoor play and physical activity amongst children a shift in the design of our schoolyards has become essential. One can argue that the schoolyard is the most important arena for promoting mental and physical health in children, as it reaches out to all children, despite social economic status, gender and inequalities.
On risky play and nature
Lise Kjønniksen, Ingunn Fjørtoft, Ellen Beate Sandseter Hansen, Lisa Mari Watson, André Flatner (f.l.t.r.)
Ellen Beate Sandseter Hansen, Professor at Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education, is an internationally renowned researcher on children's risky play. She focused her presentation on what risky play means and why it is so important. For children, risky play is an integral aspect of their development, learning to handle risk, enhancing spatial orientation skills, social skills and motor competence. Risky play actually prevents psychological problems in childhood and later in life. It's about time we let our children out and about, whether it's about climbing trees in the schoolyard, sliding on icy snow, or participating in rough and tumble play.
Next was the subject of dynamic landscapes. According to Ingunn Fjørtoft, Professor, PhD and Lise Kjønniksen, Associate Professor, both from University of South-Eastern Norway, nature and complex landscape invites children to explore, solve problems and play. Take a fallen tree in a schoolyard for instance, it quickly becomes a popular attraction, bringing children to play in a myriad of different ways. Ingunn and Lise recommend bringing nature back to school, and - most importantly - doing so in collaboration with the students.
Lisa Mari Watson, Managing Director at Tverga pointed out four qualities in schoolyard design: Variations, zones, nature and size. She also presented the key method to achieve thriving and creative schoolyards, namely design thinking. Make sure to know what the challenges are and who your target groups are - before designing the schoolyard.
Best practice examples from Denmark and Norway
Kine Marie Krogh Olesen, Landscape Architect at Stavanger municipality and Ola Mattsson, Development Consultant at the Danish Foundation for Culture & Sports Facilities, both shared inspiring examples of schoolyard projects. While Kine talked about how Stavanger municipality systematically maps and upgrades its schoolyards, Ola explained the Danish campaign “Drøn på Skolegården”. Ola had a clear message to everyone engaged in schoolyard design: Note down clearly defined challenges and potentials in the local area and let that form the basis for the project's vision!
The webinar was moderated by IAKS Nordic President André Flatner. The recording is available for free for IAKS members. Simply contact the IAKS headquarter at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask for the access code.