Development of an interior design guideline for preschool spaces

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to compare the responses of interior designers, architects, and child development professionals to statements regarding preschool spaces and, from those responses, determine spatial characteristics to be included in a guideline to aid in the design of childcare facilities. The sample for this study consisted of design and child development professionals working in their respective fields in Virginia, North Carolina, and the Washington Metropolitan area. Responses were gathered using a mail survey which included a variety of questions about preschool spaces.

Analyses of the forty-eight Likert scale questions from the questionnaire using a one-way ANOVA revealed statistically significant differences in the responses of the groups in twenty-five instances. These differences concerned private spaces for children, adequacy of information available about children's needs, food preparation facilities, and spaces for support activities. In many other instances, only the level of disagreement with particular statements was significantly different.

Frequency analyses of four questions concerning identification of the five most important spatial characteristics from given lists again indicated general agreement among design and child development professionals. The characteristics identified as most important for inclusion in preschool spaces were: safety, flexibility, creative opportunities, density, varied play opportunities, anthropometrics, visual access to outdoors, acoustics, varied lighting, security, temperature controls in each room, signage, furniture safety, comfort, durability, maintenance, varied surface levels, design supporting children's competency, varied play spaces, spaces offering physical and mental challenges, and child-sized toilets. cCharacteristics viewed differently by design and child development professionals tended to be issues that were specific to the discipline such as anthropometries (design) or provision of cooking facilities for children (child development). A recommendation for a preliminary design guideline was made that included all characteristics viewed as important to either design or child development professionals. Implications of this research and recommendations concerning future investigations are included.

children's spaces, interior design, preschools