ERIC Number: EJ904676
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Jun
Reference Count: 10
Preschool Facilities: Are States Providing Adequate Guidance?
Lea, Dennis R.; Polster, Patty Poppe
School Business Affairs, v76 n5 p24, 26-28 Jun 2010
The preschool facility is a critical element of an effective preschool program. The recent economic downturn in the United States makes it difficult for states and individual school districts to consider developing new preschool programs or enhancing current programs or facilities. Yet many Americans still agree that public investment in preschool education is important to the nation's economic well-being. Given the importance of preschool education and the physical environment that is necessary for its successful implementation, the authors reviewed all 50 states' department of education Websites for documents related to facility planning or construction. An analysis of that work indicates that decision makers should be familiar not only with the state facility planning or construction document(s) but also, in many cases, with state early childhood learning standards documents. Thirty-one states had documents specifically related to school facility planning or construction. Only North Carolina has a document exclusively focused on early childhood facilities. Some documents make no mention of early childhood environments, whereas others, such as Ohio's, address specific topics, such as program activities, spatial relationships, environmental considerations, finishes, features, and loose furnishings. The Ohio document also includes a sample classroom layout diagram. The majority of the state facility documents merely mention preschool in reference to some specific standard (e.g., square footage). The most often addressed topics are classroom square footage minimums; playground space requirements; and restroom, window, and exit requirements. When it comes to facility planning, the golden rule is "Form Follows Function." Simply put, the facility design must reflect the instructional approach that has been selected by the community. In planning an early childhood facility, one must be familiar not only with the "facility" standards or guidelines of the state, but also any "curricular" standards or guidelines, as they will affect the facility planning process. Many states offer some form of guidance related to preschool facilities. However, those states provide research-based guidance specifically related to preschool learning environments. Preschools, for the most part, need only meet minimum local or state standards that are generally items related to health and life safety and minimum square footage requirements for indoor and outdoor areas. The development and enhancement of preschool facilities and programs state by state may be the most important educational change for the future success of the nation and its children.
Descriptors: Educational Facilities Design, Preschool Education, State Standards, Facility Guidelines, Preschool Evaluation, Educational Facilities Planning, State Surveys, Web Sites, Position Papers, Content Analysis, Guidance Programs
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Primary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States