Whether you want to build a brand-new playground or are considering a playground upgrade, it’s vital to consider older children when designing and choosing play equipment.
When we think of play, we often think of toddlers and children below the age of eight. While these age groups need to be carefully catered for, overly focusing on our littlest children at the expense of older children can lead to an imbalanced playground.
Older children are aged between eight and twelve years old and typically represent grades 3, 4, 5 and 6. The period between eight and twelve is defined by increased social play, improved physical coordination and endurance, and a greater interest in problem solving activities like puzzles and cooperative games.
Playgrounds that only focus on activities for younger children (such as solo play and sensory experiences) are going to fail to offer the kind of interesting experiences and challenges that older children benefit from.
At adventure+ we understand that the age of the playground users, their needs and abilities, as well as safety, learning and engagement requirements, are all essential factors when formulating a playground design.
In this blog, we will discuss how we can best serve older children’s needs with innovative, fun, and learning-rich play experiences, and provide age-appropriate playground equipment through design.
Introduce Physical & Active Playground Experiences
Many schools and parents have experienced “tween” children complaining that playgrounds are now too easy or boring, and yet schools and parents alike want to encourage older children to be active and play.
Children between eight and twelve still require play experiences to let off steam, exercise, have fun, challenge themselves, and learn in an unstructured way.
What schools and parents need to know is that older children are less interested in imaginative role play than three- to seven-year-olds. Instead, older children gradually become more and more interested in the physical and mental challenges involved in play, such as learning to do tricks on the monkey bars or climbing play structures. This is why the rope playground structures are a popular option for schools.
To keep older kids interested and active, the size and spacing of play equipment should also be considered. Small openings and small platforms make it difficult for older children to move around quickly. A larger play space with interconnecting features is going to suit older children better.
Maximise Challenge & Risk
It’s important for children in this age group to be challenged. If a playground lacks challenging elements, older children will lose interest and miss out on the benefits that coincide with play.
For this reason, we need to ensure play components and activities need to be the correct size. Monkey bars need to be the right height and play equipment like climbing cubes need to be difficult to navigate.
In particular, our Ninja courses are great options for senior children. Children at this age are developing their sense of competitiveness and love the challenge of setting new records as they tackle an obstacle course.
Our Flying Fox range is also a great way to introduce an element of challenge and risk.
The playground designers at adventure+ will ask the age of the users and design your playground accordingly.
Offer Social Play Opportunities
Unlike younger children, who can often be seen playing alone or side by side with other children, older children spend a lot of time talking with their peers, devising interactive games, and developing friendships.
In order to foster these important social experiences, school playgrounds should offer rope structures and other large platforms to provide a refuge for students to sit and chat.
In public playgrounds, play equipment such as the Gyro swing gives older children a place to gather, socialise and enjoy the entertainment and physical benefits of swinging.
It’s Time to Take Play Seriously
adventure+ understand that play is an essential developmental opportunity for both younger and older children and design playgrounds to suit their well-being, learning and development.
We work directly with school boards, teachers, and communities to manufacture and install the best playgrounds and play equipment Australia has to offer.
In all of our projects, safety, inclusivity, learning value and fun are carefully evaluated. We offer all children, their families, teachers and carers the best possible play experiences, to get everybody smiling.
Call us today on 1300 237 587 to talk about your next playground.