Environment arrangement in early childhood educational institutes is vital to child’s learning as it is the nature of the 3-6 year-old to learn through the sense of touch from the exposure to their surroundings while playing. To achieve child age-appropriate development, World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT) has collaborated with Boeing Public Company Limited to support the construction of ‘natural playgrounds’ for the promotion of children’s natural cognitive learning and stage-proper growth, as well as physical, mental, emotional and social development, to 11 child care centres and 13 schools in the area development programmes in Nong Hi, Roi Et province and Senangkhanikhom, Amnat Charoen province. The teachers, educational institute administrators, parents, communities, and state agencies have also collaborated to improve learning preparedness and growth development for vulnerable children living in remote areas under the ‘Learning Root Project.’
The natural playground idea is a mixture of the local wisdom and an educational innovative concept, taking into accounts 4 key components: safety, convenience, fun, and maintenance. The playgrounds encourage various aspects of child development, including fine and gross motor, emotion, and social behaviours. A variety of equipment and the freedom to play also boost children’s imagination while cultivating the sense of gentleness and environment conservation.
The natural playground construction has been accomplished, thanks to community members who have engaged in every step, from planning and design to resource sharing, which includes budget, materials and equipment, and labour contributions, to build the recreational facility for their own children.
Recently, the playgrounds supported by WVFT and Boeing have been handed over to the child care centres and schools in the area development programmes in Nong Hi, Roi Et province and Senangkhanikhom, Amnat Charoen province. Dr Bunjongsek Supsopha, Marketing & Fundraising Group Director, has represented WVFT in the handover event and visited the playgrounds at Khwao School and Wareesrisuk School, with a warm welcome from the teachers, educational institute administrators, community leaders, parents and students. The representatives from the supported child care centres and schools have also taken this occasion to give presentations to show the results of the playground construction and share their experiences from the community engagement.
“A conventional playground is usually installed with ready-made equipment that is made either from metal or plastic, which has a specific lifespan. Once worn out, it cannot be repaired to prolong the usage. On the contrary, in case of a natural playground, the school and community may find wood or rope to make the replacement parts to fix the broken equipment because the materials are locally available. All it takes are labour and local wisdom contributed by the villagers. We thank WVFT and Boeing for the idea ignition. The school and community will continue and build upon the project for the benefits and future of our own children,” said smilingly Mr Boonthan Rueangmontri, a kindergarten teacher of Ban Duk Ung Sicharoen School, Roi Et province.
Primprapha, or Ying, a 6-year-old girl in kindergarten level 3, said in excitement: “I love the slider and the swings. My friends and I play with them every day. I love our school’s playground. I want to come to school every day.”
Likewise, Jetsada, or Tang, a 6-year old boy in kindergarten level 3, said in the cheerful voice: “I like to climb and dangle on the rope bridge. Sometimes I play tag with my friends. It is so much fun and also makes me strong.”