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Whether in schools, local parks, community centres or resorts, outdoor playgrounds provide an exciting hive of opportunity where kids get the chance to play. Recollecting back to our own childhood, these opportunities to play often make up some of our fondest earliest memories and accounted for a vital part of our learning and developing. Playgrounds give children the freedom to explore, experiment and learn and this is what makes them so valuable.
In playgrounds children get to :
1. Be creative
Kids can play all kinds of games, from make-believe pirate ships, to shopping adventures, to a different role play each day where the playground forms part of their latest adventure.
2. Build friendships
A playground becomes a meeting place for old friends and a place to find new friends
3. Be active
Whether playing tag, 44 home, soccer or basketball, a playground offers children the chance to be physical. Engaging in active play boosts physical wellbeing, developing gross motor skills, strength, balance and endurance which in turn has a positive impact on all round health.
4. Be emotional
With all the activities above, an outdoor playground becomes an environment where children can experience a range of emotions from super excitement, to disappointment and sadness to fun and happiness. The playground is a place where they experience and deal with emotions.
5. Develop skills
From negotiation to leadership, unstructured play requires kids to use different skills whether it be working in a team, negotiating a friendship, or leading a group of warriors to the next imaginary battlefield. The outdoor playground forms a big part of this learning space.
But we have all seen outdoor playgrounds which are not well-utilised and miss out on being the venue for all of these amazing life experiences. So what should we consider when designing or building a playground?
Not all kids want to run at 100kph or engage in boisterous chase or ball games. Playgrounds should cater for a range of activities from outdoor spaces which have the ideal soccer goals or basketball hoops, climbing zones and slides to those which offer spaces for imaginations to grow and quiet friendships to develop.
Whether it be from rain or sun, having adequate shelters means a playground will be much more widely used than one that is open to all the elements without reprieve.
Seating and outdoor furniture
For snacks, or picnic lunches or to chat and make plans, seating offers the meeting point for communication. Playgrounds which offer an assortment of outdoor tables and chairs to meet these needs and purposes, make the outdoor space a practical and comfortable place to be.
Bins and storage
A dirty playground is not an appealing place. Having bins in strategic locations which are convenient for kids to use help keep playgrounds full of the right kinds of life. Other benches or bike racks also help give kids the storage and structure that is needed.
Playgrounds which have flexibility for children to create and develop their own games and spaces are more exciting and hold more possibilities. Whether this is logs that can moved, building blocks that can be built, or bolted down fences, poles and steps that could become something more to a child’s imagination.
So whether your outdoor space is in a school, or a park, a youth centre or a holiday venue, looking into and after your playground is an investment worth making.
If you would like more advice and information on designing your outdoor space, don’t hesitate to get in touch.