Playground Safety – Age-Appropriate Equipment

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,162
    Heather Olsen of the National Program for Playground Safety discusses the basics of Age-Appropriate Playground Equipment.

    Heather Olsen: Hi! Im Heather Olsen and Im a part of a team of a National Program for Playground Safety.

    Today Im going to discuss the basics of Age-Appropriate Playground Equipment. Child development experts and parents agree that play is an essential part of childhood.

    Playgrounds help children grow physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. Traditionally, playgrounds have been built to provide a place where children can explore and have fun, but many visits to the playground end up in tears rather than a laughter. Over 200,000 children are taken to the emergency room due to playground related injury.

    Not all playground equipment is appropriate for all children. If you have to let a child on to piece of playground equipment it is a good sign that the equipment is not developmentally appropriate for the child. The steps or railings maybe too far apart or require additional strength and coordination causing a child to fall.

    Although many injuries related to inappropriate design involve younger children playing on equipment designed for older children, the opposite can also lead to injury. Equipment that is too small is not developmentally challenging and older children will create hazards by miss-using the equipment. Our children should play on developmentally appropriate designed equipment.

    Here are a few tips to follow when selecting developmentally appropriate designed equipment. Playgrounds, it should separate play areas divided from 6 months to 23 months, 2 to 5 years and 5 to 12 years.

    For 6 months to 23 months, theyre just starting to learn to crawl, to walk and to climb. So it is important to have things to crawl through and things on the ground they can climb over.

    Children ages 2 to 5 years are just starting to learn how to balance, they need playground equipment that will help them promote balance and the ability to climb over things and manipulate objects.

    For pre-school children no piece of equipment should be higher than 6 feet. 5 to 12 year olds are starting to become extremely active and developing new skills and really building muscles.

    The equipment also needs to be at the right height for the children. For our school aged children no piece of equipment should be higher then 8 feet. Adults should select equipment that is appropriate for physical, social, emotional and intellectual development.

    Playground should provide opportunities for all children. All children with and without disabilities should have an opportunity to play at the playground.

    By following the age appropriate practices, children will have a great, safe time on the playground. Good luck and stay safe!