A child should have access to a safe space to play, create social relationships, and develop critical skills. Yet, many playgrounds neglect to provide this as they create a non-inclusive space. In this article, we’ll explore how a playground can cater to children of all abilities.
Each child will have a different interest. Some may enjoy high slides, while others are terrified of heights. Since children have conflicting interests, it's important to choose multi-functional equipment. For example, you could include two slides at varying heights so that it can accommodate different ages and levels of comfort.
In addition to accommodating different ages, you should consider children of all abilities. To ensure inclusion, consider equipment for children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorders. These are structures such as sand play elements, auditory and musical activities, swings, or sensory panels. You'll want a variety so that each child can engage with the playground in some capacity.
Engagement is the top priority when it comes to designing a playground. Fortunately, engagement can come in two forms: from games played on the playground and from the play structures within. For children of all abilities, incorporating a musical play structure will immerse the child in the playground. As they will be able to hear how they are contributing to the sounds of their immediate surroundings, they will feel engaged.
With engagement comes decision making. When a child is on the playground they are presented with numerous options for fun. For instance, they can wait in a line to go down a busy slide or choose a structure that is less occupied. When a child is faced with these decisions, they are developing their cognitive thinking skills.
They are also capable of further developing their cognitive skills through equipment options. Including a maze or a tactical board causes a child to engage in their problem-solving skills and strategic skills in an independent and interactive way.
Having independent options for skill building is undoubtedly helpful for children. However, In order for an inclusive playground to exist, children also need to be socially included. This is why it's important to have dedicated areas where children can feel secure and encouraged to interact with others. This includes areas that have seating areas or swings so that children of all abilities can participate together.
When designing an inclusive playground, it's important to remember to have diverse equipment. This will ultimately influence the interaction between not only the children but also the child and the environment.