Evaluation of Innovative Preschool Play Spaces

In the preschool years, play builds a strong foundation for lifelong learning and healthy development. It contributes to the conceptual foundations of literacy, mathematics and scientific thinking, as well as building social competence and confidence, emotional resilience, self-control, and physical strength and coordination. Capitalizing on the importance and benefits of free play, Strathcona County: Recreation, Parks and Culture has invested significant money into creating Love to Play, a unique play-based preschool space and curriculum. Love to Play aims to enhance preschool children’s early developmental experiences by focusing on open-ended, play-based learning in a purposefully designed environment.

This research seeks to uncover whether and how the innovative design of the Love to Play preschool space and program fosters free play amongst preschool children and to explore the immediate health and health equity benefits realized from this innovation.

For more information about this project contact: Dr. Ana Paula Belon, Research Associate at ana.belon@ualberta.ca.

  • Dr. Candace NykiforukAssociate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Alberta (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Dr. Jane Hewes, Chair and Associate Professor, Early Learning and Child Care, Grant MacEwan University (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Dr. Jeff Bisanz, Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta (Co-Investigator)
  • Dr. Rebecca Gokiert, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta (Co-Investigator)
  • Dr. Ana Paula Belon, Research Associate, PLACE Research Lab, School of Public Health, University of Alberta (Co-Investigator)
  • Strathcona County, Recreation, Parks and Culture
  • 2014-2016 Canadian Institutes of Health Resesarch : Operating Grant – Population Health Intervention Research to Promote Health and Health Equity
  • 2014-2016 Alberta Centre for Child Family and Community Research