Quality school playgrounds are built to last for years, even with constant use almost every day and for most of the year. Eventually, however, all play areas feel the ravages of time and need to be updated. Your school’s play area might have become tired and faded over time. The colors are not as bright and the equipment seems worn. Your playground may appear dated, and fewer kids want to explore the space at recess and after school. The weather and climate, as well as heavy play, can take a toll.
You may also notice performance problems. With time, play equipment may start to deteriorate. You may find rust or pests or need to schedule repairs and maintenance more often. The damage could even lead to broken playground components that you need to replace. Old wood playsets can crumble, develop cracks or show other signs of wear. At this stage, you need to consider safety and performance.
Various other signs show your play space needs a refresh. If children are less thrilled to be playing in the space or if your equipment is no longer as welcoming, you may need to make some changes.
As your school’s mission changes, you may also find your current playground does not meet your goals. Perhaps you want to encourage more cognitive development and allow your teachers to take lessons to the playground. Or you may wish to develop a healthy level of activity at your school. Bring your current playground up to date to align with these new objectives.
Playworld makes it easy to update your play space with classic and innovative play equipment designed to help kids have fun while they learn. Adhering to current safety standards, our play equipment helps all children get in on the fun. And our friendly team is here to help you every step of the way, from planning your play space to choosing the right pieces, budgeting and financing.
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The Benefits of Installing a New School Playground
When you are considering a school playground, you have a choice between buying new equipment and used play equipment, whether you are updating your existing play area or starting from scratch. Installing new playground equipment at your school comes with many benefits.
1) Better Safety Standards
New playground equipment developed today must adhere to current safety standards. That’s crucial for keeping children safe, especially since more than 200,000 children visit the emergency room each year due to playground-related injuries. On any school playground, especially, safety must come first to reduce hazards for your students and minimize liability.
Playworld playground equipment meets or exceeds the safety standards of the top safety organizations in the industry, including those from:
- The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- ASTM International
- International Organization for Standardization
- U.S. Access Board
- TÜV SÜD America
- Canadian Standards Association International
2) Inclusive Playground Design
About 7 million students in the U.S. have a disability, and various medical conditions can affect children’s ability to enjoy playgrounds. In the 1990s, playground equipment had to adhere to ADA standards to make it accessible to children who use wheelchairs and to others with lower mobility. Since then, our understanding of the way children use playgrounds has advanced. Today, child experts recognize accessibility may not be enough.
While accessibility allows children of all abilities to access a playground, it does not always mean all children are included completely in play. An ADA-compliant playground may not promote inclusive play where children of all abilities can play together. Children may not have equal access to the “coolest” pieces of equipment, which can create separation on the playground and in the classroom when kids do not play together.
Inclusion is a newer concept in playground design. Inclusive playground design allows all children to play together in one space instead of creating a separate area. Children at different ability levels and ages can use inclusive play equipment according to their skills, confidence levels and mobility. These play spaces can help break down barriers and give all children a chance to feel confident on the playground.
At Playworld, for instance, our AeroGlider™ is a glider that children in wheelchairs, younger children and older children can all use. These types of play equipment can also be a good value since more children can use them.
Inclusive play equipment allows teachers and parents with disabilities to access the playground and help children, as well. It allows for good lines of sight and plenty of room around each piece of equipment to fully support each child in play. Take our Accessible Swing Seat as an example. This equipment offers extra support for kids and can be set up so adults in wheelchairs can get closer to any child needing some extra help.
Inclusive playgrounds in schools take into account much more than just physical differences, too. They create safe and cozy spaces for children who may get overwhelmed and need a break while still offering teachers and staff good sightlines. They also create spaces where children can work on social skills. Inclusive play equipment really goes a few steps beyond just allowing children with disabilities to access the play area.
3) A New Focus on Child Growth and Development
Newer play equipment is based on the idea that play can be an enriching play experience, intended to encourage the following:
- Sensory development: Textured and bright play equipment, such as the Log Tube, appeals to a child’s sense of touch and sight. Play panels with music and sound, like the Music Center, can appeal to auditory senses. Engaging multiple senses allows children to grow and explore the world more fully.
- Physical growth: Activity panels can help children build fine motor skills. Swings, slides, climbers and other large pieces of equipment help children work on larger muscle groups, strength, coordination and balance. Play equipment can also encourage children to have fun with physical activity, making an active, healthy lifestyle more appealing to them as they get older.
- Emotional development: Play equipment designed today can help build confidence and self-esteem. Quieter areas on the playground give kids a place to handle difficult emotions in a healthy manner. The multi-generational Swing Along Seat is one example of a piece of equipment designed to promote emotional development. Kids in need of added support can swing with a teacher or caregiver and develop a closer relationship with adults while gradually becoming more independent.
- Social skills: Play equipment created to get children cooperating and working together can teach kids to set rules, share and work in tandem. They can then build social skills to use in the classroom and beyond.
- Cognitive development: Today’s play equipment can enhance what they learn in the classroom by continuing lessons during recess. The Art Panel lets kids build on the drawing skills they learn in art class, while the Nuvo™ Counting Insert lets children learn numbers and even practice counting. Learning how to use different pieces of equipment and playing pretend games with other children on the playground can also enhance problem-solving skills.
New play equipment is designed with input from childhood experts and kids. That feedback gives you pieces that go further and help your students learn outside the classroom while encouraging healthy development during play.
4) A Better Purchasing Experience
Manufacturers of new playground equipment work hard to design quality products and support you every step of the way. New equipment comes with all the necessary parts, detailed installation instructions and even installation support. It also comes properly packaged to ensure it arrives intact and you are not missing any important pieces, letting you set up your play area correctly and safely.
When you work with Playworld, our team will answer all your questions and work with you to design and build the playground you want. The team can ensure you have the right maintenance schedule and that your setup is correct. We’ll also promptly address any concerns or questions, even after installation. Playworld even offers a planning guide for schools to make it easier for teachers, principals and administrators to make the right design choices.
Playworld has training sessions to help you and your team learn about play design, playgrounds, inclusive options and more, as well. Learn before you buy to ensure your budget dollars go as far as possible. That extra support can make the difference between a functional play space and one that serves each student while furthering your school’s mission.
5) A More Holistic Approach to School Playgrounds
In the past, school playground equipment was just pretty much “there,” purchased without much consideration beyond the basic need for a play area. Today, manufacturers and educators take a much more nuanced approach to recess and playtime. We understand more about the benefits of play, and schools want to make playgrounds matter.
Playworld is committed to creating enriching playgrounds. Our new playgrounds are not just a space for children to burn off extra energy. Our playgrounds create:
- A complement to your school programs: Playworld-designed playgrounds can help you build on what children learn in the classroom and after-school activities.
- An enriching experience: Activity panels and playground equipment designed for cognitive growth help children learn while they have fun.
- A space for community-building: Inclusive playgrounds from Playworld help children get to know each other outside classrooms. Children will engage together in play, which can help reduce bullying and let kids find common ground during recess.
- The chance to promote fitness: Today’s parents and educators are concerned about screen time and the sedentary lives of students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 24% of kids aged 6-17 get the recommended hour of exercise a day. Playworld’s playground equipment makes physical activity fun and encourages children to move, inspiring good habits for active play.
- A place that encourages creativity: Creativity plays a role every day in good decision-making and thinking outside the box. Quality playground equipment encourages children to use their imaginations and creativity.
6) Being a Part of a Bigger Initiative
Playground companies like Playworld partner with nonprofits, industry experts, governments and nonpartisan agencies to make play more accessible to more children and encourage kids to play. Playworld has been a staunch supporter of recess time and inclusive play. We work with organizations to make play equipment safer by establishing new safety standards. Quite simply, when you buy new playground equipment, you are creating a brighter future for playtime.
7) Customizable Equipment for Your Playground
When you buy new playground equipment, you choose the pieces that best fit your students’ needs. Select stand-alone pieces, full playsets or combine various elements to create the right combination of play equipment. You can even build a playground in the school’s colors to build school spirit.
Customizable playground equipment is essential for more than its ability to create a better play experience. With spatial limitations, you need the opportunity to customize your play space. You may have a small footprint to devote to a play area and need a custom solution to offer as many activities as possible. Or you may have an uneven playground or unusual terrain, requiring customized support. Playworld offers design assistance to ensure you get professional input and a personalized playground for your students.
8) Playground Equipment Children Are Excited to Play On
When you purchase new playground equipment, you get new pieces that reflect children’s needs and interests today. Your students will be excited to glean all the benefits of play.
Today’s playgrounds go well beyond the classic swings and slides of years past to offer truly innovative pieces. Our NEOS® Outdoor Electronic Playgrounds are inclusive spaces that combine the excitement of video games with outdoor play. These pieces include electronic components to spark the competitive spirit. Likewise, the play panels line is an electronic line of play equipment powered by children who spin, push buttons or otherwise interact with the structures.
9) Innovation Right Down to the Details
Today’s playgrounds have new design details to make using a play space more fun. There are shades to help keep kids cooler at recess and protect equipment from overheating. Sensory tactile playground components may be more pleasant to the touch, and slides with multiple slide areas allow kids to have fun together. Up-to-date design details make playgrounds more functional and enjoyable, improving the experience for your students.
10) A Custom Playground Design That Works with Your Available Space
New playground equipment can be customized to fit your play area. Nature-inspired equipment or pieces that suit your surroundings make your campus look more attractive and let you incorporate natural elements into your play space.
A more integrated playground can also get children discussing the world around them. If your school is in an area with interesting rocks, the Challengers® Playmakers® Boulder Climber can help teachers launch discussions about geology. If your school is located near green spaces, the Nature Hunt Panel can launch talks about the native animals in your area.
11) Installation Support
The decisions you make with installation and design can have a big impact on playground safety. Which surfacing do you need with your chosen playground equipment? What about use zones? How much clearance do you need around each item to keep kids safe? When you purchase new playground equipment, you get support for these questions and can even get a custom maintenance schedule for your school.
12) Site Furnishings and Accessories
Playground equipment is only part of your play space’s story. You also need benches for teachers and staff and for school sports events, shade to prevent heat-related issues, litter receptacles to keep your schoolyard clean and other practical components. When you purchase from Playworld, you can buy these and other accessories and furnishings in one place, ensuring you get everything you need for your campus.
13) Post-Purchase Support
New play equipment comes with warranties and after-purchase support. Even with the best-quality play equipment, things may go wrong or you may have questions. With new playground components, you have a warranty so you are covered and do not have to pay out of pocket for most repairs. If you need spare parts, it’s easy to get them. If there’s a recall on any component, your manufacturer will contact you and make it right so you enjoy greater peace of mind.
A new playground can also grow with you more easily when you buy new products. If you have a question about maintenance or care, the manufacturer can help. New equipment is easy to adjust or add to as your school’s needs change, too. It may be easier to purchase components that match the new play space you have created, especially since products in the same line may still be available.
Of course, not all new playgrounds are made the same. If you decide to enjoy all the benefits of new playground equipment, choose a reputable brand and company. Playworld has helped many schools around the country build and update play spaces with quality pieces. We are dedicated to school playgrounds. And we are there with you every step of the way, from helping you design your play space to helping you pick out the pieces and install them.
How to Choose School Playground Equipment
Knowing how to choose school playground equipment can make the process much simpler. Picking the best manufacturer and deciding on what play components your school needs require careful considerations. You want the time, effort and money you put into a new playground project to create a result that students are interested in. As you start the decision-making process, consider:
- Your budget: Whether you have a committee organizing fundraisers or are calculating your existing budget, you’ll need a rough idea of how much you can spend on a new playground. Consider everything from surfacing to extra structures, landscaping and the equipment itself. Get an estimate from a manufacturer and look into financing or adjust your plans as necessary.
- Your space: Consider the size and layout of your future or existing play space when you decide to get new equipment. You shouldn’t overcrowd the area, but you also want enough variety to keep students entertained every time they head out to play. Leave space for additional furnishings, as well.
- Your design needs: A playground can combine function and aesthetics when you choose the right design features. Customize your space to reflect your school’s colors. Pick elements that suit your building’s design, whether modern or traditional, or complement your schoolyard’s natural features and reflect them in the play space. These considerations give your playground an intentional and cohesive look with your campus.
- Your student population age range: Consider your students’ and visitors’ age ranges to get the best playground equipment. If your play space will serve a range of grades and ages, you want different areas that suit their needs. Early childhood groups have different abilities and needs than school-age children, so accommodate everyone your school serves.
- Your student population size: Along with your students’ ages, you should also think about how large your school population is. Will multiple classrooms of children be outside at once? In that case, you’ll need a large enough play space to accommodate them. If you have small recess groups, you might not need as much equipment.
- Your existing equipment: If you already have play components in place, you’ll have to consider whether you replace them or add free-standing structures. With existing equipment in quality condition, you can select new pieces that complement your current design. If you need to replace all existing structures, you can design your school playground from scratch.
You should also work with a manufacturer with years of experience developing industry knowledge. They should adhere to strict safety standards and strive to create inclusive play spaces that you can share with students and adults who visit your playground.
Partnering with Playworld to choose school playground equipment makes the decision easier. Our team of experts can suggest the components, layout and designs that suit your space, needs and budget.
Used vs. New Playground Equipment
When you’re thinking of updating your play area, buying used commercial playground equipment can seem attractive for its price point. You might already buy pre-owned items for your school, from vehicles to computers. But for playground equipment, safety is a key consideration that might dissuade you from buying used.
Experts recommend not buying a used bike helmet or car seat for safety reasons. You’ll need to keep similar considerations in mind if you’re thinking about pre-owned playground equipment. Consider the drawbacks of buying used school play equipment:
- Lack of warranty: New play equipment often comes with a full warranty, but when you buy used, you can never be quite sure when it will break. When previously owned school equipment does require repairs, the lack of warranty means any costs come out of the school budget.
- Unsafe materials: Older playground equipment may be coated or treated with toxic chemicals that can leach into your playground or be harmful to children. Older wooden play structures may be treated with chromated copper arsenate, which is now a known carcinogen. Some wood play structures are even treated with arsenic, a poison. Unfortunately, used playgrounds often do not come with detailed information showing whether any materials used are unsafe.
- Equipment that is not age-appropriate: What is considered age-appropriate has changed over the years. Today’s equipment considers fall heights and whether children can safely get to the bottom of a slide by themselves. When you buy older equipment, you may not even have the packaging and instructions to let you know what ages the play equipment is intended for. If you do have this information, it may not reflect modern ideas and standards of safety.
- Outdated materials: Pre-owned equipment may include slides made out of metals that scratch easily, wood that can splinter as kids climb and chains on swings that can pinch. Those features are just a few of the outdated design elements that impact safety.
- Recalls: Manufacturers have had to recall some playground equipment over the years because of design or manufacturing flaws. Unfortunately, these pieces may still be available on the open market, and you may end up buying them if you purchase used pieces. When you buy resold equipment, the manufacturer does not have your contact information. They will not be able to inform your school that you have purchased recalled or potentially unsafe play structures.
- Safety liability: Playground accidents are a serious concern, and older play equipment may not meet current safety guidelines or standards. Worse, previously owned equipment may have hard-to-spot or undetectable flaws that compromise its safety.
- No custom options: When you buy pre-owned equipment, you buy pieces someone else bought to work with their playground. These components may not fit with existing equipment, your available space or your needs. You don’t even get to pick the color! If you attempt to buy an entire playground with used pieces, it’s difficult to build a coherent, attractive aesthetic.
- Shorter life span: Used playground equipment may already have many years of use and exposure to the elements. You can’t expect it to last as long as new pieces due to the wear and tear.
- Lack of support: The manufacturers of used equipment may no longer be in business or may not offer support for older pieces. You’re then on your own for proper installation, maintenance and layout. Unfortunately, lack of support can mean mistakes that affect the safety and performance of your school playground. Previously owned play equipment typically offers a no-frills purchasing experience, meaning you have no one to ask questions to and no support for the maintenance and care of your new purchase.
- Availability of replacement parts: Manufacturers are unlikely to make replacement parts for older and previously owned components. Each piece of equipment needs to meet current safety standards, and older playgrounds may not meet current safety standards. Older pieces may not be made anymore, and if you need a spare part, you may realize you cannot repair reused playground equipment.
- Risks during the reinstallation process: Playground equipment can become damaged in the process of uninstalling and reinstalling it on your school playground. Important pieces may get lost, affecting the performance and safety of your school play area. Imagine, for example, the force needed to uninstall a slide or climber embedded in concrete. There is a high risk of damage and warping during the process.
- Lemons: Sometimes, when you purchase a house or car, you end up with a lemon, and the same is true for school playground equipment. There may be a reason why someone else got rid of a slide, climber or another piece of equipment, and you could end up paying for someone else’s mistake or poor purchase.
- Lack of instruction manuals: Installation instructions for playground equipment can be quite complex and contain vital safety information. When you purchase used, you will likely not get this crucial information, making it hard to install the playground correctly. You may not even be able to determine whether you have all the parts you need, and the instructions may not be readily available online.
- Hidden costs: The costs of pre-owned play equipment can be much higher than you expected. Uninstalling and reinstalling on your campus can add significantly to the price. You will also generally need to pay for shipping yourself. Repair expenses may be higher and more frequent, too, since this equipment has more wear and tear. Over time, you may find that used playground equipment does not help you realize any savings compared to new equipment after all!
- Outdated equipment: The understanding of children’s needs and development is changing all the time, and companies are always developing newer play equipment to reflect those changes. Newer play equipment can be more innovative, inclusive and accommodating of how children play, so kids have more fun and get more benefits from their school playground. Older equipment is less likely to have the “wow” factor or the innovative designs that excite children to play.
Fortunately, if your main reason for considering used structures and play components is budget, Playworld can help. We have many options to allow you to get the latest play equipment without breaking the bank. We have a variety of financing options, and we will work with you to help you get the equipment you need within your available budget.
We offer free resources about budgeting, fundraising and other financing options, as well. Monetary concerns never have to stand in the way of creating a fun, inclusive, safe and enriching playground kids will be able to use for years to come.
Multiple solutions allow you to buy new playground equipment for your school. You may be eligible for grants, and you can launch fundraisers to get people interested in your school while also raising money.
Phase building is another consideration if budget is a concern. You purchase pieces of equipment gradually, spacing out the costs. This option may help you afford a quality new playground without settling for used equipment.
School Playgrounds From Playworld
Playworld is a leader in school playgrounds and has already helped many institutions of learning across the country create innovative, fun and enriching playgrounds for students. Working with us means your school enjoys many benefits, including:
- Inclusive play design: We design our playgrounds to ensure all children enjoy the benefits of play. We can help you create a play space that breaks down barriers and helps children of different ages, abilities and medical conditions play and learn together.
- Financing and fundraising options: Quality school playgrounds are an investment, and at Playworld, we believe all children should have access to quality play areas. We offer support in fundraising and offer financing options and free resources. You’ll get the playground you always wanted for your school without breaking your budget.
- Safety and quality engineering: We craft our playgrounds with input from engineers and experts to ensure they reach the highest standards of safety and quality. We make all our equipment with the highest-quality materials and meet or exceed all relevant safety standards. Careful testing and warranties bring you peace of mind.
- Exceptional service: Playworld understands buying play equipment for schools comes with special considerations. You need to thrill your students, reassure parents, work within a budget and impress school administrators. Many people are involved in the decision, and you have many voices to consider. Playworld has a thoughtful and personalized approach to playground design. Whether you are upgrading or starting over, we can work with you to exceed your expectations. Our team is responsive and always willing to help.
Playworld is a multi-generational, privately owned and operated company. In the business for decades, Playworld offers quality playground equipment manufactured in the U.S. and designed to adhere to the highest standards of safety and craftsmanship.
We have a range of products for schools, including stand-alone pieces and our bestselling Playworld School-Age Playgrounds for the 5- to 12-year-old market. Our playgrounds for schools are activity-promoting, community-building, fun-producing and brain-boosting play areas designed to let kids be kids while also complementing your school’s classroom activities. Don’t just take our word for it — take a look at the many schools already integrating Playworld options in their schoolyards with great success.
We are leaders in sustainability and inclusive play, and we work with schools to ensure places of learning can buy and update playgrounds on a budget. When you work with us, you can feel good about the difference you are making for your students and for the future of play. Contact us today for a quote or browse our site to see some of the school campuses we have helped transform.