Shade for childcare centres and preschools
Shade Planning + Design
Planning + design checklist

Creating shade
Selecting your shade system
Natural shade
Built shade
Combining natural + built

Climate and comfort
Climate-sensitive shade design
Cool shade
Warm shade


Shade for specific sites
Childcare & preschools
The home
The street
Outdoor restaurants
Parks and reserves
Swimming pools
Shade for childcare centres and preschools
  - The need for shade
  - A Shade Audit
General considerations
Specific recommendations
Useful links for childcare centres and preschools

This section provides setting-specific information for the planning of 'sun safe' outdoor areas at early years services including childcare facilities and pre-schools.

The need for shade

Although our senses can easily detect sunlight and infrared radiation (heat), they cannot detect the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. UV radiation can't be seen or felt and can be damaging to our skin on cool, cloudy days and also hot, sunny ones.

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world with one in two people developing some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. Sun exposure in the first 15 years of life contributes significantly to the lifetime risk of skin cancer. Too much exposure to UV radiation can cause sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer.

The good news is most skin cancer can be prevented. To make sure children are well protected from the sun, use a combination of these 5 sun protection measures.
  1. Slip on sun-protective clothing - that covers as much skin as possible
  2. Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen - make sure it is broad spectrum and water resistant. Put it on 20 minutes before children go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend time they spend in the sun.
  3. Slap on a hat - that protects their face, head, neck and ears
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on some sunglasses - make sure they meet Australian Standards
It is essential that childcare services and preschools also provide safe environments for the children in their care to help reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer .

It is now commonplace for childcare centres and preschools to have comprehensive sun protection policies. Effective shade is an important part of a comprehensive sun protection policy. For more information on developing a sun protection policy or becoming a SunSmart service, contact the Cancer Council in your state / territory.

Increasingly, licensing regulations require childcare centres and preschools to provide 'adequate shade' in their outdoor areas.

A Shade Audit

The way to know whether your outdoor spaces are appropriately managed and include 'adequate shade' is to complete a Shade Audit. This shows when and where shade falls over certain areas and how the outdoor areas are used. When the existing usage pattern and risks are understood, it is possible to develop economical and effective shade solutions that meet your needs and reduce existing risks.

The person(s) completing the Shade Audit should include, or have access to, representatives from management, staff and possibly parents / carers. Involvement of all stakeholders will help ensure that potential shade solutions are considered within the context of other issues and requirements of the service, and that achievable solutions are developed. One of the key ingredients of a successful school shade project is a Shade Audit which shows how your school’s outdoor areas are used, the types of activities that occur and the skin cancer risk associated with those activities.

The following information is available if you have a registered version of WebShade. Register for WebShade

General considerations

   - Optimise the use of existing shade
   - Direct and indirect UV radiation
   - Safety
   - Supervision
   - Child-friendly design
   - Aesthetics

Specific recommendations

   - Open areas
   - Quiet areas
   - Active areas
   - Fixed play equipment areas
   - Transition zones
   - Baby/toddler areas

Useful links for childcare centres & preschools