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March 9, 2016, by Ed Melvin

The Meaning and Purpose of Scale

As a landscape architect, I’m constantly considering scale. There’s physical scale – demonstrated through size and surroundings. There’s comfort scale and emotional scale, which both define how attitudes and feelings are regularly impacted. There’s also scales of complexity and challenge, where mental, physical and social discovery can occur in an unknown setting.

The interesting thing about these scales? Each are related and work together in every environment. When all these scales are deeply considered, designers are able to create a one-of-a-kind world.

Personally, I enjoy scale as it relates to early childhood education. To these young people, everything is a miracle – trees are so tall, the school building is so big, the books are so heavy. With vast imaginations and wide eyes, children are intrigued by every texture, noise and color. Their minds move with hopes to discover and explore the universe around them.

So how do you design a space that encourages children to discover and explore, while simultaneously making them feel safe in a new environment?

Our SHP team understands the importance of cultivating a world where children can thrive. While considering their awe and wonder, we design so they can create and live their own stories within a space. We ensure they fit into each setting with ease. The materials we choose make children feel like the world isn’t too large for them to unearth. By striking the right balance between challenge and comfort, children are able to feel safe and secure while stretching the limits of their imagination. Educators and caretakers guide them through mental, physical, social and emotional discovery – while the students’ admiration for life is embraced and supported.

Through this exploration, children are given the tools to discover and develop who they really are as persons…as learners. They are comfortable enough to ask questions, though intrigued enough to seek more information. The sooner in life that children understand who they are and how to maneuver through different areas and moments, the more apt they are able to do so throughout their entire lives.

At the end of the day, we recognize that school is not a just a building where students learn subjects. We design a living environment where students can feel at home and securely free to be themselves. By considering scale as it relates to early childhood education, we are creating a world where children can comfortably learn and grow as inspired human beings.