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How to Choose an Age-Appropriate Playground
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How to Choose an Age-Appropriate Playground

Views: 106     Author: Carpenterworm-叶丽沣-Lolita     Publish Time: 2018-06-06      Origin: Site

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Close your eyes and envision people at a playground. Maybe you pictured elementary school-aged children conquering the monkey bars, jumping from the swings or zipping down the slide. For decades, people have done just that: associated playgrounds with a primary school age demographic.

Play is for everyone—from toddlers to adults—making age appropriate playground equipment crucial for many reasons, including safety and ability. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that playgrounds offer a series of graduated challenges that are appropriate for age-related abilities.

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Crucial development takes place from birth to five years of age, yet the early childhood set is often an underserved audience when it comes to play. So how do you determine what equipment is appropriate for your playground? Consider how it stacks up in the following three categories:

 

1. Physical & Sensory Value

Start by assessing what physical skills are required to use this playground equipment and whether or not it will help children develop these skills. Gross motor skills involve the large muscles of the body and aren’t fully developed until ages 6 or 7. Does the equipment in question require kids to crawl, walk, balance, jump, climb, twist, pull or bend? Ask yourself just how much core or upper body strength is needed to play. Also, consider the fine motor skills (the physical skills required to make small, tightly controlled movements with the hands, fingers or toes). Are there knobs to pull or wheels to turn? By knowing what physical skills each piece of playground equipment involves, you can determine whether it’s appropriate for the age group.

 

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Great playgrounds include sensory play activities in addition to physical play. For a young child, their sensory system is developing along with their physical development. Introduce children to a variety of textures, materials, reflective surfaces, sound and color through playground equipment choice. Consider how play equipment supports or challenges their current level of hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and proprioception (sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement). Does the equipment require them to duck under, open, or place their limbs in just the right spot?

 

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2. Social & Emotional Value

As our brains develop, our social abilities and interests also evolve. This is another essential factor to consider when determining whether equipment is age-appropriate. During early childhood, children are investigating the world both on their own, and as a group. Create areas that encourage self-discovery through patience or confidence, but also spaces that promote cooperation and teamwork. Sometimes this might mean having two of the same feature, such as a steering wheel, so the experience is shared. At around ages 4 and 5, children begin learning through imitation and imagination. Ensure there are areas on the playground that encourage the use of imagination and provide the flexibility to change from day-to-day.

 

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3. Creative & Cognitive Value

Regardless of our age, when something is no longer challenging, it tends to become less entertaining. But if something is too challenging, we might give up before trying it for fear of not being able to conquer it. Try to choose equipment that offers just the right amount of challenge for the age group.

 

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Interested in learning more about early childhood development? Check out our free Early Childhood Report. Ready to start exploring more early-childhood appropriate equipment? Start here.

 

Did you encourage a young child to get outside and play today?


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