Just a normal Sunday morning and I couldn’t help but stop at a LinkedIn post I saw from a OSHC Director in Queensland, Susan Cooper. Susan’s post was on the new space for the OSHC service she is at and it is exceptional. This led me to ask Susan some questions and find out more on how this fantastic space came to be.
My first thoughts of the space was that it feels like a home. It feels like a home I would love to be in and I’m sure this will have the same effect on children that will be using this space. This eating space pictured that is set up for the children to use is inviting. It draws you too it and makes you want to be there. I imagine children eating and sharing their time together here collaboratively. I imagine conversations about their day, about the food, and about things they love. When you provide a positive, inviting space – it can be amazing the emotions that it can conjure up.
“By including aesthetic development, educators provide approaches that set students up for a successful future and encourage imagination.” – Tawnya Eash
To have this type of focus when setting up our play spaces in OSHC we can look at theorists and learn more on the why it is important. Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy movement on aesthetic development, has a viewpoint that spotlights how children can learn about their environment through their senses. This space does just that.
Many other theorists can link to the environment, with this diagram above giving a quick insight in to some and how they can connect.
This centre is a purpose built OSHC centre that has been envisioned for years. The centre used to operate out of two classroom spaces that they had to work with to make the best of what they had.
The Director set out to change the mindset in the community, she built strong partnerships with stakeholders and helped them to understand the needs of an OSHC and what it is all about. Originally OSHC had been seen as a babysitting service in the community and this development of the OSHC space has been a step in the direction of changing this mindset.
“I’m fortunate I have formed a strong relation[ship] with stakeholders and OSHC is highly valued within the school and we have a great reputation with our program.” – Susan Cooper, Director
The school community and parent committee are very supportive of the centre and see the value of improving the OSHC space and what it would do for the school, especially as an additional advertising factor for the school itself.
The relationship with the school just grew from here, with the Director representing the centres loose parts play program side by side with the Principal at a Big Ideas Summit.
“Collecting resources items, I sourced over a few months and allowance of budget and needs for service against occupancy [of] 160 and operational requirements were considered.” – Susan Cooper, Director
The centre had out grown the space they were allocated, now looking at 160 children occupancy, and there was more and more pressing need to find another solution – such as a purpose built centre.
What Susan and the team came up with for the space, is just incredible.
“I have strategically designed [the space] to create the two level zones to represent the young and the old, to chill out / games space for older, however I do not segregate, we fully integrated so all areas open to all levels. We structure staff to various zones and if not sufficient staffing for upstairs level, we do not open until later. The centre has a lift, office, art studio, games space, dramatic and constructive space, vegetable garden, cooking, music space, library, homework space / study / chill out, sensory space. We are fortunate with the facility, however is not required to create quality. An eye for detail and yes budget can be limited, however request for donations, fundraising are all ways to achieve.”
Now for those that are reading, and looking at this space. It’s spectacular. But do you have the mindset of it’s just too expensive? Think again!
Susan designed and decorated the spaces with “Many items [being from] Ikea, Facebook Marketplace was a big hit, Amart furnishing, Kmart, op shops, Gumtree” and gave some great advice on procuring individual items over time, so it is not all spent in one big hit and many items were handpicked from bargain places as listed just above.
Susan utilised the children’s perspectives and input by “We took drawings and designs from children to allow us to plan for the spaces to ensure we were inclusive of their needs. Took survey from families to ensure their needs were met and from that planning began.”
Going in to the new year we tend to look at things with a fresh perspective:
- what is your OSHC space doing in terms of Quality Area 3?
- Is it inviting?
- Is it a place you would want to be as a child?
Please share with the team and have those discussions.
For those of you want some more images of this amazing space, Check out a YouTube video on this centres space (last couple of minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=vqSvhMZ13nI&feature=youtu.be
A big thank you to Susan Cooper, Director at Genesis Christian College Outside School Hours, for sharing how this transformation was made in your OSHC space and your journey.
Links / Resources:
- Aesthetic Development in Early Childhood – https://study.com/academy/lesson/aesthetic-development-in-early-childhood.html
- Images courtesy of Susan Cooper, Director at GeneGenesis Christian College Outside School Hours
- My Time, Our Place https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-05/my_time_our_place_framework_for_school_age_care_in_australia_0.pdf
- National Quality Standards https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-07/RevisedNQSHandoutA4.pdf