Why Physical Learning Spaces Are Critical To Child Educational Success
May 31, 2019
So much goes into creating the right learning environment for today’s students. Whether it’s a friendly and welcoming attitude, a personalized approach to curricula, or an emphasis on community involvement, these factors all play a large role in keeping students focused, engaged, and eager to participate in the learning process.
But one aspect of the “learning environment” is too often overlooked: the physical learning space itself.
At World Academy, we believe firmly in the power of the physical learning environment to influence, enhance, and improve the ability for our students to stay connected with the learning process. By balancing our commitment to providing a safe, engaging, and modern learning space with the needs of our students and families, we work hard to provide the ideal education space for everyone who walks through our doors.
The Power of Physical Space
While previous generations may have made do with the cramped one-room schoolhouse, modern educators understand that the physical learning environment can significantly improve the chances of student success.
According to the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, physical environment is “related to both student achievement and student behavior,” and that a “well-maintained and safe physical environment fosters students’ ability to learn, to show improved achievement scores, and to exhibit appropriate behavior.”
But creating the ideal learning environment involves more than just maintenance. In order to provide the optimal space for students to grow, educators need to provide a welcoming, healthy environment centered around a thriving school community, but built to support each individual.
That can involve everything from lighting and air quality, to access to the outdoors. It is a big order!
Creating A Welcoming Learning Area
In our quest to create the best possible physical learning space for students, we have focused on several key factors which, holistically, come together to provide the physical, emotional, and social support our students need to succeed to their fullest.
An Environment Where Students Feel Empowered
The “whole child” education is a key philosophy of our educational process here at World Academy, and that means guiding students from “cradle to career” addressing all facets of the student’s being including community experiences. But as much as the continuity and mingling of ages and grades contributes to the community connection, it’s also important to provide unique learning spaces so each learning level can create its own sense of place within our walls.
That is why, each section of our building - from the Main Office Area with access to our Infants and Nursery through Grade Three Classrooms, to our Entrance Hall connecting to the Middle School - houses its own distinct and unique learning areas.
As students advance in age, they transition from the Main Building to the Middle School Core, without losing touch to the vital aspects of connection and community that permeate throughout our building.
And, tying all of these areas together, our inviting Great Room wears many hats for all of our students, Transforming from cafeteria for younger students into a performance space for Preschoolers and the home for our Before and AfterSchool Programs, this shared communal space is known to just about every student who has walked through our ‘World.” The physical space layout is intentionally set up for students to safely grow and flourish, while encouraged to incrementally take risks to leave their comfort zone every year they get closer to entering the larger world.
Seamless Connection to Physical Activity
According to a wide body of scholarly research, physical activity may be a key factor in improving student academic performance and keeping students engaged throughout the school day.
World Academy has made great efforts to put physical activity front and center when it comes to our learning environment design. By integrating our expansive Gymnasium into the overall design of our learning space, we welcome students to anticipate and enjoy physical activity as an integral part of their education.
Inviting the Outdoors Into The Learning Process
Just as integrating physical activity into the learning process can have potent benefits for students, so too can regular exposure to the outdoors. Engagement with the natural world brings its own unique lessons and experiences and getting students outside into the fresh air regularly can significantly benefit mood, engagement, and classroom performance.
But engaging with the outdoors does not mean the same thing to all students. While younger students may be more comfortable within the bounds of guided play - often involving playgrounds and age-appropriate outdoor spaces - older students tend to be more self-directed, and as a result may respond better to open spaces for sports and imaginative play. We understand this and strive to provide the best possible outdoor areas for our students of all ages to enjoy each and every day.
Our Nursery playground, for example, is designed with early learners in mind and focused around uninterrupted indoor and outdoor play time for our ECE Groups. Stepping up from there, our Elementary and Preschool Playgrounds provide age-appropriate challenges and spaces to keep young imaginations running strong. And for our oldest students, the Natural Playground, Soccer Field, Swimming Pools, Basketball area and Cabin provide the perfect physical space for self-directed and challenging outdoor fun.
Integrating Technology Into the Daily Space
The influence of technology on the lives of students today cannot be ignored or understated. From an early age, students are not only introduced to technology, but are increasingly being asked to master it. But with concerns around screen time and overexposure now seeping into almost all contact with technology, it is critical that educators lead the way in creating a healthy and harmonious balance for all students.
We work hard to make sure all of our students interact with technology from a young age. From robotics experiences in all levels of curriculum to our state-of-the-art Science Lab, our educators look to seamlessly integrate technology into the daily learning process.
As students age, their exposure to STEAM and other science-based learning will inevitably push them to rely more heavily on technology, and we believe that the best way to instill a healthy, safe, thoughtful confidence around technology is to make sure students have the opportunity to explore and learn, responsibly, throughout their educational experience.
Safe and Stable for Ideal Learning
Safety is, understandably, tantamount for parents today. Each family strives to provide their children with the best possible opportunities, but at the end of the day safety and security are huge factors in school choice. And when it comes to the learning process itself, a safe and stable environment can actually provide real, tangible benefits to student success.
That’s why our facility is designed with student safety as a top priority. Our 55,000 square-foot building is fully monitored by security cameras along the entire perimeter, with the only way into the building being through secure doors entry. This technology, combined with a robust check-in and monitoring system, helps us keep close tabs on all visitors and gives parents peace of mind that students can engage in the learning process safely each and every day.
Our World Is Built For Learning
When we started crafting our home here at World Academy, we knew from the very beginning that ours needed to be a space dedicated to student success and built for 21st-century education. Since then, our school has morphed into a learning space designed specifically with physical presence in mind – where the environment, itself, is a teacher - and judging by the quality of students and alumni we’re proud to see walk through our doors, we believe we’ve created something truly special.
If you’re interested in seeing our modern learning areas for yourself, we welcome your visit. Check out our website for information on our school facilities and on how to schedule a tour. Remember: where your students learns is closely tied to how they learn, and here at World Academy we believe strongly in supporting all aspects of student development.