New enclosed space at Limerick school to encourage quiet reflection and kindness

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Sarah Cahill, Clever Clogs pre-school, with Emmett Murphy, principal of Croom National School in the new area Picture: Michael Cowhey

Sarah Cahill, Clever Clogs pre-school, with Emmett Murphy, principal of Croom National School in the new area Picture: Michael Cowhey

ONCE upon a time, there was just one yard for children to play in at school.

But nowadays, lots of schools are incorporating new and innovative types of chill-out zones – both indoor and outdoor – for children of all dispositions.

And that is certainly the case at Croom National School, where there is a new enclosed space to encourage quiet reflection and kindness.

A collaboration between the primary school and the pre-school next door, Clever Clogs, the new space incorporates a soft play area and outdoor teaching space.

In the shade of a tree, wooden benches face a large, fairytale-inspired chair, carved with the words ‘once upon a time’. In this area, teachers are able to bring stories to life, as well as teaching practical subjects that can be taken outdoors, like nature.

A sensory wall and a chalkboard are included in the area. The school also has a ‘buddy bench’ provided by Croom Men’s Shed.

Principal of Croom National School, Emmett Murphy, said that the space allows children to get away from the “hustle and bustle” of the school yard, where many would be playing during lunch. It also encourages children to bring a friend for a chat, or just to chill out.

“We opened it just after the holidays, it was a work in progress over the summer. It has been a huge success so far, the children love it. We use it at certain times in the day and the pre-school use it at other times,” he said.

The collaborative space has already proved valuable as a way for the pre-school kids – many of whom will go on to attend the primary school in Croom – to become familiar with the surroundings and the people, said Mr Murphy. The project started off as a proposal by the pre-school, but soon became a joint work in progress by the two schools.