Jill is the Director of Education. She is the in-house expert in suggestive versus prescriptive design technique and children’s environmental programming. Jill has a degree from in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University and George Brown College and has 15 years of hands-on experience working with children with special needs. She worked for 12 years at Holland Bloorview’s ‘Play and Learn’, an integrated preschool program and 3 years at Chedoke Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. The focus of her career was to make it work for all children of all abilities. She has an amazing ability to look at who the child is and what they need rather than the name of the disability. Jill combines her educational experience with her many years of working within a therapeutic system where a sensory approach was integrated into all activities within the classroom and outdoor environments. She has worked alongside occupational, physio, and speech and language therapists and applied their methods with her experience in natural playground design to provide a well-rounded approach that best supports and engages a child’s sensory diet. The added benefit of Jill’s approach is that she provides a play based method that integrates educational and therapeutic goals to support children’s development within an outdoor setting. Whatever the disability, children are truly motivated to play and participate in natural suggestive spaces where their senses are engaged and where they can flourish and grow.
Just as the lack of outdoor time has affected this generation of children negatively from an educational and social emotional perspective, it has done the same to children’s physical development. Children are not getting enough opportunities to develop their core strength, balance, and coordination resulting in an unbalanced sensory system where children are clumsy and impulsive and have difficulties focusing whether they are inside or out. Research has indicated more children are having sensory processing issues. One study in the United States found that 1 out of 12 children have normal core strength and balance. Natural playgrounds provide a multi-sensory environment that engages all five senses plus they provide vestibular and proprioceptive input. This multi-sensory approach allows children to work on all areas of development enabling them to make sense of the information coming in. Natural playgrounds can easily feed a child’s sensory diet and enable children to get what they need to grow and flourish. The Bienenstock philosophy considers both the developmental and sensory needs of children when planning our playgrounds and creating components. Our aim is to help children of all abilities meet their developmental and sensory goals through play.