Many schools, particularly urban schools, struggle to find space for a new playground. However, the benefits of installing modern and safe playground equipment for schools are wide reaching. With thoughtful design and high-quality play equipment, even a small playground can have a positive effect on schools and their pupils. Careful playground design can maximise the positive effects, while ensuring the playground is safe, inclusive and good value. By considering the positive consequences of a new playground, our playground designers at adventure+ design playgrounds that are truly an asset to your school.
The most significant benefit of a school playground is increased physical activity. Playgrounds and exercise go hand in hand, increasing cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. Playgrounds get children moving, but not all playgrounds are equal. A careful selection of components included in the playground, including overhead activities like monkey bars, balancing activities and challenging climbing activities, will provide many opportunities for gross motor skill development, while items like puzzles, panels will develop finer motor skills. Additionally, playground design layout is very important – playgrounds can be designed in circuits or in paths to promote constant movement. In particular, the inclusion of loose play equipment has been shown to capture children’s intrinsic motivations to play.
Play boosts problem solving, critical thinking, literacy and fine motor skills all in one, and the better the play experience the better the cognitive benefits overall. If this wasn’t motivation enough to install a new playground in your school, then it’s also worth noting that better recesses make better students by preparing their minds for learning. Problem solving and decision-making skills are particularly enhanced by climbing structures, while literacy skills are supported by the kind of imaginative role plays that can be sparked off by a themed play area.
Sensory play is any kind of play that activates a child’s senses, and is known to have many benefits, such as encouraging exploration and sparking curiosity. These benefits in turn enable a child to undertake more complex learning tasks, by integrating their five senses with information and ideas. Sensory play equipment can include everything from sand pits, talk tubes and puzzle panels, as well as swings and moving equipment where the vestibular senses are put to work.
Well-designed playgrounds encourage children to play together, develop their vocabularies, and learn important life skills such as sharing and caring for others. To promote social play, school need a wide range of school yard facilities that provide a range of social interaction opportunities. While a ball courts provides some social benefits, it doesn’t cater for everyone’s interests. Other valuable design elements should include refuge areas for quietly sitting and chatting, circuits for games of chasey, double slides and puzzle panels.
Mental Health Benefits
Outdoor play is associated with improved mental-health and self-esteem in children. Outdoor play gives children a sense of freedom and connects them to nature – even if that’s as simple as the sun on their face or playing below shady trees. Giving children free reign to play, imagine and move their bodies is an emotional outlet that also helps them regulate their moods. In a study by San Diego State University it was discovered that limiting the amount of unstructured play time children receive greatly increases their rates of anxiety and depression, and note that “play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.”
Kids practice everything they learn in the playground, where they integrate information and skills. In fact, it’s often been said that children learn through play. From collaborating with others, to strengthening their attention span, and engaging in critical-thinking activities (i.e. deciding how to climb a rope tower) play enables children’s neural pathways develop flexibility and complexity, which pays off in the classroom when it comes to set tasks.
We Take Play Seriously
At adventure+ we excel at designing and installing playgrounds that provide maximum benefits to children. We work directly with schools to design, manufacture and install the most effective and customised playground. Call us today on 1300 237 587 to speak to organise a consultation.