Transition classroom – play area
Ensure direct access from the classroom to a dedicated external classroom play area and from there to a larger school play area.
In order to
avoid pupils getting lost or distressed and to provide opportunities for safe and limited interaction.
Especially pupils with more serious handicaps, those in special education and ‘autism classes’ in particular need a safe social environment which appeals to their social and communicative skills in a limited and controllable fashion. Additionally they need to maintain good oversight over their physical environment.
Regarding the demarcation between the class and the playground – and the interior and exterior spaces as well – two recommendations are given in order of importance. The first one is to attach a dedicated external play area to the classroom. Here, pupils cannot get lost or become otherwise distressed in search of the playground, nor do they have to meet schoolmates they don’t know. Furthermore, this limited space enhances the possibility for supervision (see recommendation 16 about this).
McAllister & Maguire make these recommendations on the basis of their own research for pupils in special education, aged between five and eight years. They add “the secure outside play area can then be used, in addition to playtime, as a potential reward or as an external classroom for introducing weather, nature and the seasons to pupils by teaching staff. External seating and a canopy outside the doors can also act as a buffer between classroom and exterior. This can allow a pupil to watch his or her peers if unwilling to join in or as a place to withdraw to from external play, if wanting to rest.” (Links added by website author.)
Most of these considerations also apply to the second – perhaps optional – recommendation, proposed by McAllister & Maguire: if children are able and ready, connect this class-playground to a “larger enclosed play area or a school playground used by the wider school population. This hierarchy of external space allows the pupil, if they wish, to join the greater school population, thereby increasing the opportunities for social interaction. If unwilling to do this, or preferring a quieter environment, the pupil can instead stay in the enclosed classroom external play area.”