Connected spaces enrich learning at Acacia Ridge
Children and the team at Acacia Ridge Early Years Centre and Long Day Care are reaping the benefits of merging their rooms into open and connected spaces.
The spaces, known as pods, are a relatively new concept in the early childhood sector. The changes are part of enhancing service delivery and finding ways to create a flexible, inclusive and child-centred environment.
Bringing children and educators together
Centre Manager, Marisa Phillips, said her team wanted every child to feel a sense of belonging in every space, and for every educator to connect with every child.
“We knew we wanted to operate a child-centred, purposeful and responsive program. We also valued every team member and wanted to harness their individual strengths,” she said.
As part of the transition, staff have played a bigger role in planning centre operations, including managing routines and developing an open, play-based learning environment.
From six rooms to three pods
Under the new structure, six rooms have been merged into three pods with room for the same number of children. Staff no longer work in room silos and come together for a collaborative approach to children’s program and learning.
“It has been a great learning opportunity for staff to take responsibility for how they want their pod to run. Together, they agree on a united vision for the space and how to implement it to support each child who is part of their pod community,” said Marisa Phillips.
Pods created to engage children
Pod 1 is for 0-2-year-olds with a maximum of 16 children and five educators. The meals space flows onto a play area, and a relaxed sleeping space with fairy lights, soft curtains, and soothing music.
Pod 2, for ages 2-3, with a maximum of 20 children and five educators, has a play room including camping play, home corner, music, and drama. The outdoor area includes a bush cubby and heuristic outdoor instruments. The meals area is now a Baby Shark Café, inspired by the much-loved children’s song.
Pod 3 is for 3-5 year olds and includes Kindergarten, with a maximum of 44 children and six educators. This pod operates separately to allow the Kindy children a space specific to their program, but the children have a chance for group activities on the shared verandas. Opened ended, natural, holistic, child directed play is central to this pods environment.
Teamwork the key to successful change
Marisa is proud of the way her staff have approached the change.
“The staff have really pulled together, they’re working as a team to deliver a responsive program every day,” she said.
“We’re all committed to the best outcomes for families and children by working on open communication, respectful interactions, and focusing on building engaged and connected relationships with every child and family.”