Roots & Wings: a Reggio-inspired Preschool



As a child, you might remember the special outdoor spaces of your youth. Perhaps it was the treehouse or fort in your backyard. Or a cluster of trees where you played until dark without adults nearby.

Throughout the course of human history, there is a biological urge to find these hidden spaces away from others to feel safe and protected. For children, these spaces are appealing as they also offer unlimited imagination play. We like to call these special areas in our outdoor environments, protected spaces. Creating protected spaces is one of the foundational ideas in planning outdoor spaces for early childhood.

Robin and Toni Christie from Childspace Workshop in New Zealand are vocal proponents of creating “protected spaces” for children in outdoor play. Protected spaces are spaces that children can play without the interruption from others. These spaces don’t have to be large and are often small corners that are out of the main flow of traffic. Children are more likely to get into the flow of play when they are not interrupted by others. Protected spaces give children the type of environment that is helpful for self-regulation. Even though we are giving examples of protected space in the outdoors, they are just as important for indoor early childhood environments. If you would like more information, Robin has a new book out called ‘Design, Build, Play’, available at