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A study of outdoor environments for young children: re-envisioning the child development laboratories at UIUC

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Title: A study of outdoor environments for young children: re-envisioning the child development laboratories at UIUC
Author(s): Zhou, Xucan
Advisor(s): Lawson, Laura J.
Department / Program: Landscape Architecture
Discipline: Landscape Architecture
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.L.A.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Young Children Outdoor Environments Child Development Laboratory Landscape Architecture Design
Abstract: Although the significance of the outdoor environments in young children’s physical, cognitive, social and emotional development has been affirmed for a long time, there is an obvious decline in contemporary children’s daily outdoor experiences. In respond to this trend, traditional research focuses on the playground redesign and safety issues with play equipment. While learning through nature has been proposed, it mainly emphasizes the positive effect of play with natural elements. With the belief that the high-quality outdoor experiences – including both environmental education and social education – are necessary for young children and should exist everywhere, this study moves outside the proverbial box of playground design and explores quality outdoor environments with daily accessibility for young children. Taking the child care center (including a child development laboratory – CDL, and an early child development laboratory – ECDL) at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as the site of research, through on-site observation and interviews with parents and teachers, the major barriers to young children’s daily outdoor experiences, including time, space, safety concern and faculties, are summarized. Meanwhile, it is concluded that, enhanced accessibility, extended play space, suitable micro-climate, effective supervision and enriched learning opportunities, are basic elements of ideal outdoor environments. On the basis of precedent study, three design strategies, including grey space, mixed-use development, and movable play facility are proposed. Three design options illustrate them correspondingly.
Issue Date: 2010-06-22
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/16476
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Xucan Zhou
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-06-22
Date Deposited: May 2010
 

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