More Than Just A Monetary Consideration
In the United States today, as always, we tend to shop and investigate the best deal available always looking for the ultimate value.
Value is defined by Webster as "rate of usefulness, importance or general worth."
Today, we find many people involved in America's playground industry looking for a good value. Unfortunately, many people see value as a monetary issue and shortchange themselves after the fact by missing the real value in playgrounds. We can define this "real" value as "play value." Webster defines play as "the spontaneous activities of children."
To me, that definition more effectively and accurately describes the value of a playground than the price that a playground cost to put in. Researchers for years have said that the events of our youth help determine and set our standards for adulthood. With that idea in mind, we can see that spontaneous activity as a child should be creative, stimulating, social, cognitive, and safe. We should be developing and providing play areas that promote this type of activity.
To promote adequate play value for your play area forget about monetary issues during the beginning stages of the process. Look at issues that address a child's creativity, that can stimulate their minds, issues that provide a social and communicative design, and look to ideas that can physically enhance their play area and always keep safety as a front-runner to those ideas.
Creativity on a playground can be as simple as a game panel on a structure to elaborate games involving natural resources and other children. There are many businesses and organizations that specialize in creative playgrounds beyond the traditional swing and slide. Research on the Internet is time well spent in this area.
Creativity on the playground can also provide a learning environment for the children as they play. An example of this is located in a western town that has a history of pioneer settlers and Native Americans. The town has provided a city park playground that replicates a local fort from the 1800s. Ideas such as this can be found in every community and add value to the play equipment through the education that the playground can reinforce.
Be aware that playgrounds are a child 's first real association with other children. Even today we hear stories from adults about a bully or incident on the playground from when they were a child. Yes, this is where children begin to learn about the usefulness of communication, alliance, friendship, and even things such as fighting, bickering, and fear. Try to develop a play area than can focus on the positive effects of a social atmosphere for children. The area that traditionally gets the most attention from adults designing playgrounds is probably the physical aspect. Play areas need to be areas where children can burn their energy and explore their physical capabilities. Most major play equipment manufacturers have addressed this issue accurately and can provide many useful activities that promote physical development of children.
As you are aware from reading Today's Playground we must provide a safe environment for our children. This aspect of play value cannot be overlooked and must be an issue in each decision of creating a "play value" play area for children. You can find safety information through the National Playground Safety Institute and other current playground organizations and manufacturers.
After you have addressed the "play value" of your plan, it is then the time to address budgets, contractors, and manufacturers that can help you meet your "play value" goals. Providing "play value" will help ensure that your play area is a popular item in your community.