Fish Hoek Primary School's physical environment is vibrant and child-friendly

Children are precious and learning is fun, says Fish Hoek Primary School, WITHOUT uttering a word. The atmosphere and the child-friendly building and grounds tell you this. When you tour the school playgrounds, you know that the school cares and nurtures the children's spirits. Decorated walls and open spaces with various functional objects are used to spread happiness. These are the subliminal messages I got when I visited Fish Hoek Primary School last week.

There are those who believe school is a place where children come to learn and not to be entertained. Also, they add, children do not appreciate and respect the property so money spent on decor and landscaping are a waste of money. Obviously, I am not in this camp and neither is Neil, the Acting Principal of Fish Hoek Primary School, his staff and his parents.

Neil explained that beautifying the school has been an ongoing project for years.

"When we moved into these premises, the school was brown. Everything was brown and dull. How can you operate in a dead space like that," said Neil. "That's when we started to tackle sections gradually."

I took teachers from two different schools on an impromptu tour of our host school that morning. The verification of school schedules could wait for a few minutes. Here I had a golden opportunity to ignite these teachers' curiosity and to inspire them to start a similar project to transform their own school spaces.

And now, I would like to take you on the same tour. Below are a few of the areas at Fish Hoek Primary that may stir the passion in you to offer your services to a school you care about.

In the picture above, the school has created a seating area from large cement pavers covered with donated offcuts of astro-turf from a local sports club. Notice the colourful bins and a slatted bench in the background. Old school benches can be repurposed for outdoor use as well.
This picture is part of the Foundation playground. Tree stumps are adorned with mosaic beetles, the tree trunk has a colourful ribbon and the artworks on the walls are parent designs. Neil said that the parents who help are usually those who want to do something when they have the time.
I love this signage, also found in the Foundation Phase area.

Inspirational messages are mounted and placed at strategic points at the school.
This picture above of a ballerina marks the girls' bathroom.
These beautiful girls were excited to tell me about their school. Notice the bright, breezy colours, the mirrors and the decor stickers.
The boys' bathroom door has stickers of cars.

Even the boys have their own mirrors beautifully displayed just above the hand basins.

Ordinary cement pavers become colourful Maths in action stepping stones.
The wall of remembrance.
The recycling area doesn't have to be dull and dreary as in the above picket-fenced example.

Chalkboard paint and stickers are used to create a large, functional notice board .
A dark area is given a facelift with enormous colourful puzzle artwork.

If I have still not succeeded to show you that school is a thermostat to regulate the entire multi-sensory experience children deserve in and outside the classroom, then perhaps Charlotte will:

"Why did you do this for me?" he asked. I've never done anything for you."
"You've been my *teacher, " replied Charlotte. That in itself is a tremendous thing."
(Charlotte's Web, with apologies to E.B. White. * original word is "friend")

Now it's your turn...
What do you think? Should we be concerned about the school buildings as important elements to create a culture of learning?


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