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Playground Swings 101


Little girl on playground swing

While playgrounds have many popular attractions, swings are a classic feature in any park or playground. Most kids love to swing, and they receive numerous benefits when engaging in this activity. If you’re looking to improve your playground area or build a new one from scratch, consider the many different types of swings available and choose one to suit the kids who most often use your play area.

Why Are Playground Swings Important?

Swings are an essential element of playground design because most kids naturally know how to swing. The body adapts by corresponding the leg’s movements with each swing.

Swings can be a social activity or a way for kids to enjoy activity alone. Kids can enjoy pushing others on the swings or talking while swinging next to each other. Some swings allow for several kids to ride at once, such as tire swings or basket swings. Traditional belt swings can also accommodate solitary play for kids who want to spend some quiet moments alone.

By incorporating different types of seats onto a swing set, you can easily adapt the arrangement to meet the needs of various ages and abilities. Consequently, swings can be an important part of an inclusive playground or one at a day care that tends to preschoolers during the day and older kids after school.

It’s easy to see the value of traditional belt or bucket swings for older kids and preschoolers. However, nontraditional swings also play a crucial role in your playground. For instance, group swings like tire swings promote sharing of equipment and coordination among several kids. These types of swings build valuable social skills that kids may not have the chance to practice in the classroom.

Little girls on tire swing

Whether you choose individual swings, groups swings or a combination of both, you are making a good decision in promoting the health and well-being of kids who use your playground.

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8 Different Types of Playground Swings

Making the choice to include swings in your playground is essential, but you must also consider the options you have available. Recognizing the various types of swings can help you when shopping for the best choice for a specific age group. Plus, you will better understand the perks of each of these swing types and how your kids can benefit from them.

You should be aware of descriptions of the various swing types to recognize models with the same design under different names. Listed below are some of the most common and beneficial swing types for various playgrounds and parks.

1. Traditional Belt Swings

One of the most well-known types of playground swings is the iconic belt swing, also known as a sling swing. These swings are best for older kids who can hold themselves upright in the backless seats. These seats are heavy-duty pieces of rubber that conform to a child when sat upon, making them a more comfortable option to swings that have flat plastic or wood for the seat.

One of the great benefits of installing a traditional swing set is the ability to change out individual swings for other models to accommodate children of various ages or abilities. This particular model of traditional swings holds six swings with sturdy legs open in an A-shape on either end and in the middle to increase stability. Consider this option if you have a large playground or host many kids who love swinging together as a group activity.

The play zone under belt swings that needs fall surfacing should extend six feet on all sides of the structure. Under the swinging area, place fall surfacing twice the height of the support beam from the central support forward and back. Therefore, if the swings hang from an eight-foot support beam, place fall surfacing 16 feet in front and 16 feet behind the swing.

four boys on swing set

2. Tire Swing

A tire swing differs in several ways from traditional belt swings. The latter only permits forward and backward motion. However, a tire swing can let up to three kids on board to swing in multiple directions. The ages for these swings are from 2 to 12. These movement differences come from the number of chains and their connection to the support structure.

A tire swing features three chains installed at equal distances from each other on the tire and meets at the top connection on the support frame. The result is a swing that one or more kids can use for swinging 360 degrees around.

Due to the nature of tire swings, do not attach more than one to a single bay. Plus, do not use a tire swing on a composite play structure. Tire swings also need additional focus on maintenance to ensure their hangers can undergo more intense stresses during use than traditional swings.

For installing a tire swing, allow six feet of space on all sides of the support structure that you keep free of other equipment and provide fall surfacing under. Plus, for the area where the tire swing moves, keep clear a space with a radius of the length of the tire swing support plus six feet.

3. Basket Swing

A basket swing combines the benefits of a tire swing’s multichild capacity with the single-axis motion of a belt swing. These swings are sometimes referred to as saucers or web swings. Regardless of what you call them, these swings can hold up to four kids at once. Toddlers especially like basket swings and the chance to swing with their friends. However, older kids can still use these because the swings have an age range of 2 to 12.

basket swing

These swings have four chains to support them and provide the extra support needed. Pairs of chains meet at the top where the two connections to the support beam allow for back-and-forth motion.

Like tire swings, basket swings require their own dedicated bay to provide the extra space needed to safely swing. Since these swings have a single axis of movement, follow the fall zone surfacing guidelines for traditional belt swings.

4. Hoopla Swing

The Unity Hoopla swing has many things in common with a basket swing. Like the previous swing, this type also features four chains to support the swing’s back and forth motion. The Hoopla swing allows four kids to swing at once, which promotes sharing of space and time. Kids ages 2 to 12 can use this swing.

Since four kids can be on this swing at once, it requires extra space provided by keeping it in its own swing bay. If you want to add more than one Hoopla swing, you will need to add a bay to your existing Hoopla swing bay.

This swing features a single axis of movement. When installing this swing, follow guidelines for spacing and safety surfacing for traditional swings, which are also single-axis swings.

5. Accessible Swings

Accessible swing seats are alternatives to traditional belt swings that you can place in one of the bays of a standard swing set. What sets these seats apart is their sturdy seat that uses a roller-coaster-inspired safety harness and back to hold the child in place. With help from an adult, a child who needs extra support can enjoy swinging just like their friends.

father pushing daugther in accessible swing

When acquiring accessible swing seats, specify the height of the support rail that you use. These seats can accommodate rail heights of seven, eight and ten feet.

As with other types of traditional swings with a single axis, use appropriate surfacing under this swing twice the height in front of and behind the swing. So, for a seven-foot support rail, place surfacing 14 feet in front of and 14 feet behind the swing.

6. Arch Swing

Arch swings are a pair of traditional belt swings in a single bay with arch supports on either end. If you need to add extra swings, you can always add extra arch swing bays. This type of swing bay is a good option when you have limited space or a small group of kids. These swings work well with kids who are old enough to sit up and support themselves on the belt seats.

Follow guidelines for traditional swing sets when installing protective surfacing under these swings.

7. Toddler Swings

Toddler swings don’t use standard belts. Instead, these swings have bucket-shaped seats for extra support of little ones, which gives them their alternative name of bucket swings. Consequently, these swings require adult assistance to get into and use. Bucket swings have a design that makes them ideal for daycare centers that cater to preschoolers. Even with adult supervision and assistance, you still need protective surfacing under toddler swings to adhere to the same requirements as other single-axis swings.

If you have limited space for your swings, consider a T-shaped support for a pair of toddler swings. Or you can install bucket swings in a separate bay from traditional belt swings. Do not use toddler swings in the same bay as swings for older children. Keeping older and younger kids’ swing seats separate will help to ensure the safety of everyone using the swing set.

T-shaped toddler swings

8. Swing Along Swing Seats

For daycare centers that want to engage in more face-to-face time with preschoolers, there is the Swing Along Seat. This type of swing allows for a child younger than five to sit across from an adult or older child on the same swing. For installation, this swing requires a specific support structure.

These types of swings can promote connections between toddlers and their caregivers. Plus, it lets those taking care of children at a daycare enjoy swinging along with the child.

How to Choose Swings Based on Age Group

When choosing swings for your facility, you need to look at the ages of kids who use the playground. For instance, if you have an elementary school that only has students in kindergarten through fifth grade, you won’t need to include toddler swings. However, if you have a daycare that does not accept children over six, you don’t need swings for older kids. All types of facilities should include accessible swings to give all kids the chance to enjoy playing on the swings.

Preschool Ages 2 to 5

list of swings for kids ages 2 to 5

Swings for preschool kids should offer support for children who still are developing their sense of balance and physical support. Bucket seats for swings are best for children younger than five because these seats keep kids securely in place. These seats also require an adult to get the kids into their seats. This feature helps ensure the safety of younger children by enforcing supervision.

Preschool kids may also benefit from other types of swings, especially if they are at the upper end of the 2 to 5 age range for this group. Basket swings, tire swings and Hoopla swings are options to allow groups of kids to swing at once. However, just like bucket swings, these require adult supervision at all times.

Swing Along Swings are best for younger kids within the preschooler age range. Younger kids can sit in the seat facing an adult. With an adult to keep eye contact during the swinging, the child may feel greater comfort, especially if they have not used a swing before at their daycare. Plus, by facing an adult, the child can practice eye contact, a valuable social skill.

Elementary School Ages 5 to 12

Elementary school children ages 5 to 12 have the greatest range of swing options. Kids in this group can use belt swings, tire swings, basket swings and Hoopla swings. Though these children can support themselves independently while swinging, they should still have adult supervision at all times.

Make sure to separate swings from other playground equipment to ensure that the safety zones with protective surfacing do not overlap with the zones from other components. If you don’t have enough room for a large six-swing set, consider incorporating a smaller set of two swings on arch supports at either end or using multichild swings, such as tire swings, Hoopla swings or basket swings.

Top 7 Benefits of Playground Swings

Playground swings offer kids numerous benefits. These perks are vital to growing young bodies and minds. With swings on the playground, kids have a fun time while building physical, mental and emotional skills. Among the boons gained from using swings, kids can enjoy the following.

1. Encourages Physical Exercise

Swings encourage physical exercise. Though the motion itself is soothing, the swinging requires kids to keep moving. Once the kids stop, the swing stops. Since the activity is fun, kids want to keep doing it. Therefore, they can get more movement in their daily routine by playing on the swings.

2. Builds Social Skills

children on group swing

Social skills built on a playground are important because kids interact with others their own ages without direct adult intervention. Swings allow kids to learn to compromise and take turns when deciding who gets the last turn to swing.

Group swings, such as basket or tire swings encourage kids to learn to cooperate as they swing. These types of swings require coordinated efforts to move in the same direction. Kids learn to work together to get more enjoyment out of these swings.

3. Relieves Stress

Despite many people’s views of kids as having stress-free lives, some kids experience more emotional turmoil than adults may realize. The gentle motion of swinging can provide soothing stress relief for many kids. This quiet swinging also lets some kids who may want an independent activity have time to themselves.

When kids have a chance to calm themselves through a healthy activity on the playground, they may be able to avoid meltdowns from high-stress situations.

4. Engages Vestibular System

The vestibular system governs the brain’s ability to balance the body. Classroom learning does not often use the skills that build the vestibular system. However, many playground activities, such as swinging, do.

When sitting on a standard belt swing, a child has to balance themselves and remain stable on the seat. This helps to train their vestibular system. Plus, swings can help engage their core muscles, since the core helps stabilize the child as they balance on the swing.

5. Works Proprioceptive Senses

Proprioceptive senses are how the body knows where it is in space in relation to the things around them. Swinging is one type of physical activity that can work this type of sensory system to promote improved coordination.

As the swing moves, the child has to know the precise timing to move their legs to maintain or change the motion. This type of movement in relation to where the body is in space uses the proprioceptive senses. By developing these senses, kids can be more in control of their bodies. This impacts a variety of areas of life, including coordination while walking, climbing stairs and using appropriate levels of strength for activities.

Children moving on group swing

6. Develops Fine and Gross Motor Skills

From birth, children begin to develop and hone their fine and gross motor skills. Both are crucial for building muscles and improving the coordination of movements. Gross motor skills use the large muscles of the body, such as those that control walking or crawling. Fine motor skills regulate minute motions such as those involved with holding pens or pencils or gripping objects.

When swinging, kids use gross motor skills while pumping their legs to get the swing moving. These skills help the kids to work out larger muscles in the body to increase strength in these parts while they learn to coordinate the movements of their arms and legs.

Kids practice fine motor skills as they use their hands to grip the swing chains, which requires fine coordination among the fingers and hand muscles. Though gripping a chain seems minor, the same fine motor skills can help kids properly hold pens for better handwriting.

7. Resets Focus

Swinging is one type of unstructured activity on a playground that gives kids’ brains a much-needed break from the constant focus of learning. The time outside on swings can give kids a break to help them to refresh their bodies and minds, which may help them focus more intently when they go back into the classroom.

Contact Playworld for Different Kinds of Swings for Your Playground

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Swings provide fun and exercise for kids of all ages and abilities. You can even find swings that multiple kids can use at once to enhance social skills and sharing. Why not bring these benefits to your playground or add to the swings already at your facility? You can get the swings and swing sets to suit your facility here at Playworld.

When you choose Playworld swings, you get robust swings for kids of varying abilities and ages. Choose the types of swings based on your kids’ ages and play preferences. Our equipment uses quality crafting to ensure longevity. For instance, our belt swings have slash-proof seats and steel frames. For added convenience, you can choose anti-wrap hangers. We use this same attention to detail and durability with all our products.

Enhance your playground with a variety of swings to appeal to numerous preferences and abilities with our lineup at Playworld. Contact us today to request a quote for your school or facility’s swings.