If you are a parent, grandparent, or guardian, you know that it is impossible to overemphasize the importance of play. Play takes multiple forms; it can be structured or unstructured, in a group or individual. All kinds of play are important to help children grow the skills that will help them be successful in life. Kids develop their communication skills, their creativity, their ability to work with others, and even build lifelong connections.
Is one type of play better than the other? All types are good, but unstructured individual and group play are vital and beneficial. This type of play allows children to use their creative thinking skills, learn to communicate with each other, and move their bodies. These benefits are only intensified when children play on playground equipment. Playground equipment and playground settings boost children’s confidence and their immune systems. These are necessities in modern life.
Play looks different depending on the age of the child. However, playgrounds are not one-size-fits-all like many people think. Toddlers play differently than preteens. Whether it is school playground equipment or a new park in your town, you must choose the suitable equipment for the age range that will be enjoying it.
Toddlers need special playground equipment to help them play to the best of their ability. Play does not start after you start walking; toddlers need places to play where they can crawl, waddle, scoot, and everything in between. What does this type of playground equipment look like? Toddler-centered playgrounds are full of ramps, bucket swings, spring rockers, and climbing equipment that is less than three feet tall. All of this can be themed playground equipment or traditional playground equipment. No matter what the style is, it is designed for mommy, daddy, big brother, or big sister to play with the toddler. After all, some things are harder when you can’t walk yet!
As children move out of the toddler stage and into the preschool age range, their play needs change. No longer do they need ramps to crawl on; these little bundles of energy can run, hop, skip, and get around faster than most adults can keep up with. Preschool-aged kids need school playground equipment that gives them the ability to use their energy and their imaginations. Children at this stage in life have imaginations that are blossoming in the most creative ways. Themed playground equipment is a great option because it gives them an idea to base their play around. Musical playground equipment is beneficial for children of this age because they are able to engage multiple senses at once. Regardless of the style of the playground equipment, here are all the things you should have in your preschool playground:
Once we get to the 5-12 age range, we have reached the timeframe when children’s play explodes with creativity and enthusiasm. These children are fine-tuning their motor skills and their imaginations. Now is the time to give them challenges. School playground equipment for this age range should be spaced out to give children room to run, jump, twirl, and climb without running into each other. This playground equipment should also challenge children to play in new ways. Consider adding a tire swing, vertical sliding poles, monkey bars, seesaws, slides, and arched climbing structures. Children need extra stimulation at this age, and this more advanced playground equipment is an excellent solution.
Now that you are informed about the differences in playground equipment for each age range, we will discuss which factors are used by Carolina Recreation & Design to determine the age-appropriateness of each piece of playground equipment. There are five main factors we look at:
First, you need to look at the size of the playground equipment compared to the size of the children that will be playing on it. We mentioned earlier that toddlers need climbing structures that are less than three feet tall. If you put only those climbing structures in your school playground equipment, both preschool and elementary-aged kids will get bored and frustrated. However, it is important to note that there are differences in playground needs. You can’t simply scale up a toddler playground for elementary schoolers or scale down an elementary playground for toddlers.
Second, playground equipment should not only stimulate the child’s body. It should also stimulate their mind. That is why themed playground equipment and musical playground equipment are so important. The more senses that are involved in play, the more skills the child gains. Once again, keep in mind that this differs for each age range. Toddlers need playground equipment that helps develop their sense of perception and gross motor skills, while preschool-aged children need something to stimulate their creativity.
We briefly mentioned this in the last point, as mental acuity is part of child development, but we want all children to be involved in play with their minds as much as with their bodies. This means stimulating their imaginations, critical thinking skills, and creative thinking skills. The best way to do this is with themed playground equipment for semi-guided play.
The second part of child involvement is physical activity. Of course, physical activity levels are dependent on physical ability levels. Playground equipment should be designed for each age range with that age range’s physical ability in mind. Toddlers need things to crawl and scoot on, whereas preschool and elementary-aged children need things to run, jump, and spin on.
Safety is a major concern, whatever your child’s age. Playground equipment should be picked out so that it stimulates the child and keeps them safe. Climbing structures larger than three feet are dangerous for toddlers, as are monkey bars for preschoolers. Be sure to choose your school playground equipment with each child’s safety in mind.
Functionality is the final piece of the puzzle we use when designing our playground equipment. We want to create playgrounds that children will truly enjoy. Choose playground equipment that has more than one purpose; perhaps, that means a climbing structure that doubles as a piece of musical playground equipment. No matter what it is, make sure you are prioritizing playground equipment that your children will use.
If your community or your school is looking for premium playground equipment for sale, congratulations! You’ve found the best! Carolina Recreation & Design specializes in age-appropriate playground sets that stimulate children’s bodies and minds. We offer commercial playgrounds for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary schoolers. If your kids need a way to play, we’re here to bring their imaginations to life. Call us today at (704) 664-1833!
Carolina Recreation & Design is a full-service general contracting company offering turnkey installation of recreational products for parks, schools, churches, clubs, daycares and amusement parks. We offer premium-quality commercial products that are safe, fun, and built to last.