This Might Be the Coolest Kindergarten Ever

No matter how great your kids' school is, I bet this kindergarten classroom has it beat. Imagine a giant rooftop playground in the shape of a ring with kids gleefully running and running. And running. Sure, there are areas with little tables and chairs under a sheltered space, but because there are no walls the children can just run off during a lesson. This doesn't bother the teachers at all, said architect Takaharu Tezuka, who designed the space, in his TEDx talk: "The principal says, 'If the boy in the corner doesn't [sic] want to stay in the room, we let him go. And he'll come back eventually because the circle comes back.'"

Tezuka designed the classroom, if you can even call it that, to work with kids' natural impulses, instead of against them. Kids love to run in circles, so that inspired the space's track-like shape. One little boy ran 3.7 miles over the course of a morning! There are no walls to make the children feel constrained and anxious, and no sounds barriers between spaces because children thrive in noisy environments. There are rope nets, and trees to climb, and the kids basically behave like little monkeys, Tezuka said.

My point is, don't control them," Tezuka said. "Don't protect them to much. They need to tumble sometimes. They need to get some injury. That makes them learn how to live in this world. I think architecture is capable of changing this world, the life of people. This is one attempt to change the life of children."

Tezuka doesn't say how well the kindergartens are learning to read or count, but does it even matter? There's plenty of time to learn that. They are getting to be their silly little selves, and when you see the glee on their faces, you know these little ones are having a blast. We only get to be kids once, and this kindergarten lets these children be who they are—and discover a lot about themselves and the world in the process.

Watch Tezuka's full TEDx talk below:

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Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor, writer, and mom who is fascinated by architecture and design. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.

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