Kids today play differently than they used to. In the age of the social media boom, around six in ten parents worry that their children spend too much time on electronic devices, while another 90% say that they would prefer for their children to play outside. As you consider the incentives to bring your students outdoors this school year, here are a some special considerations to make sure your playground is up to snuff.
Use ADA-approved products to expand playground access.
It’s easy to blame kids for not taking advantage of expensive playground equipment, but many playgrounds and parks aren’t accessible to all children. When shopping for playground equipment for schools, be sure to look for products that are up to ADA standards. Installing a handicap swing or installing poured in place (PIP) mats around swings can ensure that students have equal access.
Make sure that playground equipment is safe.
Although we have long since passed the days of dangerous playground equipment for schools (such as the Giant Stride) it is still important to make sure that equipment is safe for children. The IPEMA recommends buying through a third party and ensuring that manufacturers demonstrate
proof of the products’ liability insurance.Likewise, staff should be aware of the proper functioning of playground equipment for schools, and it is recommended that replacement parts be kept on hand.
Let your vision be your guide.
It may be tempting to invest in expensive playground equipment to create an “adventure park,” but the best playground is the one that meets the needs of the students. Considering what you would like your students to get out of their playtime is the most important consideration when purchasing playground equipment for schools. Wanting to foster a sense of togetherness and camaraderie in their playgrounds, companies like Eduplay have created “Interaction Places,”or mechanical installations that foster play between multiple children. Still other administrators may intentionally seek out playground equipment for schools with a focus on STEM, music, or the environment.
There is no single right way to construct a playground. Children learn best when allowed to experiment, to be creative, and to use gross motor activities. Providing a venue for them to try new things and to spend time outdoors with other children is perhaps the most important factor in any playground.