Students often view their school’s playground as a place of freedom where they can finally run and socialize after focusing hard on academics for several hours. Yet, school administrators understand the importance of having a quality playground so that children can build critical skills that influence their learning. Now that more states are beginning to recognize the benefits of recess for kids by making it a legal requirement, many schools are taking a renewed look at their current play area. Whether your school just reinstated recess or you are just ready to update the outdoor space, you can ask yourself these questions to make sure your educational facility has a playground that represents your school’s dedication to excellency.
Does It Fit Current Safety Standards?One of your biggest roles as an educator is to keep the students safe. Old and outdated school playground equipment could have damage that poses a risk. For instance, the last thing you’d ever want is to have a chain on a swing to break or for a kid to break a bone from falling over a rickety rail. Have the playground inspected regularly for damage, and update areas such as the fall zone with safety surfacing that helps prevent injuries.
Can It Serve Multiple Purposes?School playgrounds should be able to function as more than just a place for kids to enjoy recess. Consider adding picnic tables so that teachers can allow their kids to do their schoolwork or eat lunch outside. Alternatively, you might add a gazebo area for after school clubs to meet in. Adding features that allow the playground to be used beyond the obvious purposes helps everyone get the most out of the investment.
Does It Promote School Spirit?Almost every school has a few slides and swings, and adding custom themed playground features takes your school’s outdoor area from basic to amazing. Think about what makes your school stand out, and find ways to incorporate this into the playground theme. For example, you could add customized cutouts of your school’s mascot to the fencing or add a sign with your school name to the entrance.
How Accessible Is It?Your school has a responsibility to make sure that every student can play on the playground equipment. Did your school recently add a preschool or special education program? If so, then the equipment may need to be updated to reflect these changes. Be sure to let the playground designer know the age groups and special needs areas that your school serves so that you can be sure that there is something for everyone to enjoy. As you do, be sure to throw in a few challenges as well so that the older students can enjoy activities such as completing a challenge course or building their muscles with an outdoor workout.
Quality playgrounds should last a school for many years, but you may discover that the one at your facility still needs a few updates. As you answer these questions, be sure to spend time observing the students outside. You may just discover a few more ways to take your current playground scheme from great to amazing.