Children hop, skip and jump into Early Start’s new outdoor experience

Children hop, skip and jump into Early Start’s new outdoor experience

The circle garden encourages agility, balance and coordination in an exciting new outdoor environment

The University of Wollongong’s Early Start Discovery Space launched a new outdoor experience for young children today (Monday 24 October), to coincide with the start of Children’s Week.

The Circle Garden includes climbing structures (man-made and natural), a mud kitchen, hidden garden pathways, wharf and sand pits (including wheelchair accessible) to inspire children to create, innovate and imagine.

The new space has been designed for active play and promotes agility, balance and coordination in an environment that encourages imagination, problem solving and social interaction.

Additionally, the space was created to emphasise the importance of reconnecting with our natural environment and encouraging outdoor play and learning.

Early Start Discovery Space Manager Josef English said the Circle Garden is an exciting new experience that is backed by research.

“The development of this space has typified the work of Early Start,” Mr English said.

“It’s a genuine collaboration between our researchers and education team to translate what we know about best practice in early childhood settings into this physical environment.

“We thank our members for their patience during the construction of the Circle Garden and know that this new experience is going to provide many opportunities for adults and children to play together.”

The Circle Garden was informed by the work of UOW researchers Dr Karen Tonge, Professor Lisa Kervin and Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett; and funded by the Abbott Foundation, one of the founding donors of Early Start.   

Director of Early Start Research Professor Lisa Kervin said the Circle Garden highlights the importance of active play.

“Research shows that active play helps with the development of dexterity, physical strength, builds confidence, improves balance and problem-solving skills, develops focus and concentration, and enhances social skills,” Professor Kervin said.

“We’re launching this exciting new experience during Children’s Week, an important time to acknowledge the rights of the child and celebrate their talents and citizenship.

“This year the focus is that children should not be disadvantaged so that they can’t do many of the things other kids can do, and for us at the Discovery Space, that’s play!”

To celebrate the opening of the Circle Garden and start of Children’s Week the Discovery Space held a special Welcome to Country with Dharawal Wodi Wodi Elder Aunty Joyce Donovan and brief formalities at 10am. A range of activities to encourage agility, movement and balance will also be happening throughout the Discovery Space during the day.

Professor Lisa Kervin will also host a special Children’s Week webinar on the changing role of digital technologies in children’s lives in the afternoon. More information is below.

About the Early Start Discovery Space

The Discovery Space is operated and supported by the University of Wollongong and was opened in 2015 with a generous $7 million contribution from the Abbott Foundation.

The Abbott Foundation provides funding to people who support the mental, behavioural and physical well-being and development of young children.

Early Start Discovery Space Experience Fund

Did you know you can donate to the Early Start Discovery Space Fund? Your gift today will allow us to continue growing, developing, and maintaining the experiences within the Discovery Space for years to come. To donate please go to:

Children’s Week Webinar

The Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for the Digital Child will host a special Children’s Week webinar on the role and use of digital technologies with, for and by children. A panel of experts will explore the changing role of digital technologies in children’s lives. The webinar, facilitated by Professor Lisa Kervin, will look at the responsibilities of digital producers, as well as the children themselves and their adults, in creating and consuming digital experiences which enhance child development.

Date: Monday 24 October, 2022

Time: 4pm (AEST)