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Playgrounds benefit kids in more ways than one. It gets them active and promotes social inclusion which is crucial to overall wellbeing. According to the World Health Organisation, 20% of children are overweight or obese, and they need to be active for 60 minutes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Community park and school playground equipment is built to promote children’s sensory, cognitive and physical development. Well-designed playgrounds address specific developmental needs at each stage of growth. Here we look at the successive stages of childhood and the considerations in designing commercial playgrounds with play equipment that aids in development for each age.

Toddlers Playgrounds

Between the ages of one and four, children are building sensory and motor skills by exploring the world around them. Playgrounds facilitate this growth by challenging the children to move through, over, beneath obstacles, as they develop spatial awareness and hand eye coordination. Play equipment for this age group is appropriately sized (extremely small!) and designed into recognisable themes that stimulate language as kids point to, name and talk about elements like animals and nature.

Pre-schoolers playgrounds

Child-centric designs at the pre-school age of two to six are made to build bone mass and refined physical movement. Play equipment becomes narrower to encourage more precision in physical movement, and prompts actions which build strength like running and jumping. Play equipment for this age group, such as control centres and pirate ships, revolve around role play as children develop imagination, friendship and more advanced language skills. Through interactive features like water and sand play, children learn about cause and effect in the natural world.

School aged kids playgrounds

From the age of six, kids have the same proportions as adults, and are at a stage of advanced learning. They are starting to master skills like agility, balance and coordination through the use of climbing nets and balancing obstacles. This is the age where they start to play in larger groups and invent their own rules for play, contributing to social development, friendships and emotional intelligence. School-aged kids develop awareness of other children’s feelings as they experience winning and losing in games.

Early adolescents playgrounds

Weight issues seem to be particularly acute in children aged 10 and over who are slowly becoming less active in our technology drenched world. Young teens are growing at an advanced rate, and as a result, need to continually develop their balance, speed and strength.

 Children at this age are drawn to swings, climbing equipment, and activities of a competitive nature. They seek physical challenges in their play, and use play areas as spaces in which to socialise and connect.

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