The Tandou Kindergarten is located in the 19th Arrondissement of Paris, a mixed-income district with a population density of 27,687.1 (inhabitants/ Km2). The total surface area of the schoolyard is 960m2 with an additional area of 650m2, which previously were fenced sports courts. This area is given back to the school for the purpose of the school's transformation. The school serves 200 pupils in 9 different classes. One class of 22 pupils (5 years old) actively participated in the co-design workshops.
Although at the beginning of the project, I thought that we would receive complaints and concerns from the parents for the natural playground, it was a surprise to realize that almost every parent was excited and supportive of this change. We had only two complaints from parents during the first two years of the new schoolyard", says the school director Mrs. Corinne Vilkoviskis. "Today, parents are asking to use the schoolyard for gatherings and birthday parties, and we are considering creating a framework for allowing such events in collaboration with the Parents Association.
According to Mrs. Vilkoviskis, the most popular area among the children seems to be the quiet area with huts, where they enjoy gathering in small groups of 2-3 and developing their imaginary games. Such activity was not possible before the transformation as the area did not provide the incentives for this type of play.
The Tandou Schoolyard now has a large area dedicated to luscious vegetable gardens. As Mrs Vilkoviskis describes with excitement: "We were lucky enough to have a vegetable garden before the transformation as well, but it was a fenced garden next to the schoolyard with regulated access during the day. Now, we have large areas inside the schoolyards with wooden pathways where the children not only take care of the plants as part of the school curriculum but they enjoy observing them any time of the day. We noticed that children are more excited now with the vegetables. They observe their growth every single day. For example, now we have those large pumpkins ready to cut, and the big discussion in the schoolyard is when and how we will cook them!"
"Don't be afraid. Speak a lot with everybody. With parents, teachers, construction workers - literally everyone - to explain your vision in detail and bring them on board! Open up your mind to the possibilities of your school! "
- Mrs. Vilkoviskis