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SDN centres designed for every child

A trip to a fun park can be an exciting treat, but even the most energetic child would soon be worn out if we dropped them off each morning expecting them to ride the rollercoaster every day.

As adults, we often make the assumption that spaces for children should be bright and busy with endless visual stimulation, but SDN’s aim is for children to feel a sense of security and belonging, just as they would in their own home. And just as the family home rarely resembles a chaotic fun park, neither do SDN centres.

“Young children are constantly trying to seek meaning, to make sense of their world, and our environments are designed to support them to do so,” says Lynn Connolly, Senior Practice Leader at SDN. “Busy, loud environments can often be overwhelming on the senses, distracting from the important work at hand.”

SDN centres are decorated with gentle colour palettes that set the tone for a calm environment. Décor and furnishings might be similar to those found in the family home. This familiarity and normality can help ease the transition from home to child care or early education; it’s also an important step towards creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. 

Each SDN service shares the same vision, mission and values, and works with the same philosophy to achieve the best outcomes for children and families, but there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to SDN environments. The design of each SDN centre reflects SDN’s rich history and the children, families and communities that the centre serves.

Children are encouraged to have an impact on their environment – for example, displaying their latest artworks on the wall or bringing in mementos from their holidays.

“Each of our services works hard to reflect the children and families in their community and create a sense of belonging,” says Lynn. “Rooms proudly display family photos, and spaces are created for families to sit and be with their children and connect with educators and other families.” 

Educators also focus on providing language-rich environments supporting early language and literacy development. This means that books and literacy materials take pride of place in SDN centres, and posters that encourage reading are a common sight on the walls. 

SDN’s design choices are guided by current research in child development and the human sciences as well as the National Quality Framework and the Early Years Learning Framework. SDN is also in the unique position of having over 110 years of experience working with young children and their families.  

“Educators draw on their knowledge of child development and theory to create environments that meet the individual learning styles, needs, interests and ability of each child,” says Lynn.

A well-designed environment can encourage positive interactions and learning through play, while helping young children to feel safe, supported, included and inspired to explore new skills.