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The İmportance of preschoolers’ experience in kindergarten design

Şahin, B. Ece
A number of studies have revealed that experiences gained during preschool years have a great impact on the subsequent accomplishments of an individual, and that kindergartens have a major influence on child development since these are places where children spend most of their preschool time. Early childhood education has a special importance among all other education processes because development is shaped at a large extent during the 0-6 year period of children. During the first three years, care for children is given at various establishments, such as kindergartens and day care centers, but especially at home, and various programmes are carried out to support early childhood development. Preschool education is based on programmes delivered at playschools or preschools for children aged 3 to 6, in order to give children a better start in life. In Turkey, preschool education is delivered generally by official and private independent playschools (for children 36-72 months of age) or in playschools that are established within schools (for children 60-72 months of age). The process of preschool education contributes with short and long term influences on children and society since early childhood development is viewed as a key to social development. The quality of the physical and social environment affects child development in this education process. In order to improve the conditions of the physical environment, designers can try to reach best design solutions, by getting children's ideas about their educational environment. In a study conducted at a kindergarten in Bursa, it was assumed that the ideas of preschool students about the physical environment in kindergartens can help designers to gain knowledge about children's requirements and this may spearhead new designs and inventions for supporting healthy child development (1). The questions that the children were asked in the study aimed to learn children's evaluations and expectations about their settings. The most important result reached in the study was the observation of the ability of 5 year-old (between 48-60 months of age) and 6 year-old (between 60-72 months of age) group of children to construct successful verbal statements about their physical environment by referring to their own experience. In short, our research has revealed that designers can obtain important data for the design process by consulting children. It can thus be concluded that understanding children's ideas on the space they use must be a policy for meeting children's needs and improving the conditions in preschool environments.