It’s no secret that regular physical activity has numerous physical and emotional benefits for children. Children who play are healthier, happier, and often get better grades than their sedentary peers. Unfortunately, less than 24 percent of children in the United States get even an hour of physical play per day.
School and community playgrounds were developed long before this statistic was produced, but their development was still centered around the knowledge that children need safe places they can come together to play at school and in their community.
Over time, the importance of playgrounds has grown, making the job of designing new playground components more important than ever. Whenever designers and architects come together to design and update playground equipment, the goal is to combine health and wellness with the need to encourage children to develop a sense of community, self-worth, and independence. Each year seems to bring a variety of new and exciting innovations in all of these areas, and 2020 is no exception.
Playgrounds are a great place for children to learn how to engage and interact with others, including children their own age, children of other ages, and even their parents. Among this year’s featured new playground equipment is Our Town, a collection of playground features and details designed to encourage imaginary play among groups of young children.
Inclusive play is also focused on the need to make playgrounds more accessible for children and adults with disabilities. In the past, compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) resulted in the creation of features and play structures that were noticeably set apart from the rest of the playground. Unfortunately, this didn’t encourage socialization or interaction among children. Now we’re implementing new features that incorporate ADA-compliant playground features within the same play structure, allowing children to interact together, regardless of age or physical ability.
We’re continually improving our inclusive play designs to encourage:
1. Fair Play
Play environments encourage interaction among children, providing ways for several children to engage in imaginative play together, rather than children competing for one beloved piece of equipment.
2. Independent Play
We always love to see parents and children interacting together on our play equipment, but our goal is that children should be able to navigate each piece of age-appropriate equipment without the help of an adult.
3. Age-Appropriate Play
If a child is expected to conquer a playground that was designed for someone else, they’ll quickly become discouraged or lose interest. Our playgrounds are designed to meet age-appropriate developmental milestones that will encourage your child’s exploration and accomplishment along the way.
4. Safe Play
Your child’s safety is our number one goal. Our aim is to create playground equipment that challenges children and follows the strictest safety standards.
5. Ease of Navigation for Parents
Even when they aren’t engaging with their child at a playground, parents want to easily see their child at all times. Our 2020 designs show increased attention to open spaces that help parents spot their children wherever they are. Parents with disabilities will also find new features that help navigate through the playground, making it easier to keep an eye on your child and engage with them at any time.
Music has long provided children of all ages with an important way to express themselves. Music plays an important role in stimulating a child’s cognitive development and developing a variety of social abilities. Musical elements on playgrounds, such as bells, keyboards, chimes, and drums, are a simple and effective way to incorporate music into play spaces and encourage development in these areas.
Musical playground features can also provide developmental support for children with sensory issues. Exploring these sounds in an outdoor environment, under the guise of play, can be a good way to process sensory issues related to sound and touch. Music is also a great communication tool for children who are non-verbal, making musical play equipment an important part of including non-verbal children in the activities of their peers.
Playworld’s Sky Towers® were designed to incorporate a variety of sensory experiences into a playground setting. This enclosed climbing tower features a variety of musical and sensory elements for children to explore as they climb toward the top by incorporating the sights and sounds of nature among mirrors and lights. Because this tower is enclosed, children feel safe climbing to the top and are ultimately rewarded with a bird’s-eye view of the playground below, as well as the sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished.
Risk, within reason, is an important part of a child’s development. In fact, children need to face and overcome obstacles in order to develop confidence and resilience as they grow. Playground equipment can provide a relatively safe space for children to take risks and have adventures that will help them to develop confidence and pride in themselves and their abilities.
Sky Towers — which we mentioned above — are one of the ways we’re incorporating more adventure into our designs. This climbing tower lets kids make their way up above the playground, but keeps them safe and contained inside the equipment. Along the way, they engage in a variety of sensory experiences, but the ultimate thrill comes when they reach the top and look down over all they’ve accomplished.
Another way to incorporate adventure into any playground is with ZoomTrax, our kid-friendly zip line apparatus. Available with either a disc-style seat or an accessible seat, children climb in and hang on as they ride the rail back and forth. Kids of all ages love the feel of the wind in their hair as they fly across the playground, and lines quickly form at playgrounds where this feature is available.
Playground Innovation for 2020 and Beyond
The times are changing, but there’s one thing that won’t ever change — children learn and grow through safe, independent play. They need to be together, they need to try new things, and they need to spend time outdoors. One of the best ways to get that is with a playground at school or in the community.
At Playworld, our goal is to provide children of all ages with creative and accessible playground solutions. We recognize the challenges that school administrators and community leaders face in purchasing safe, accessible equipment for the children in their community — that’s why we’re proud to offer a variety of products that can be combined to meet your specific needs and budget.
Don’t wait — request a quote today.