As a parent, it can feel like a continual learning curve understanding exactly what your child is capable of and what might be a little too much for them. This feeling is epitomised by the classic playground dilemma.
Whilst most playgrounds are suitable for all ages, that doesn’t mean that your concern for safety is reduced. The level of worry is obviously dependent on how old your child is as well as how many other children are around and how reckless they seem to be. The point stands though, you want your child to be safe whilst they play.
To help you stay informed, here’s a quick run through of some common playground equipment (including a couple of pieces you might be able to add to your own garden).
Traditional Playground Equipment
Classic playground equipment includes all those classic toys that you’ll probably recognise from your own youth! Swings, Wendy houses, sand pits, slides and more. The best part about this traditional equipment is that it can be easily added to your own collection and is super safe.
The equipment in this category is suitable for all ages and designed for simplicity. None of the equipment is particularly high off the ground and even less requires fast movement. Traditional playground equipment is all-inclusive, opening the doors for both imaginative and sensory play.
If you see classic equipment you recognise from your youth, the chances are it’s suitable for your child.
Climbing Playground Equipment
Climbing playground equipment is a much more difficult choice for a parent. Climbing equipment can come in all sorts of different forms, from small boulders to rock climbing to rigid rope structures. The true challenge comes in convincing your child not to go on this equipment because it usually looks more interesting than the other apparatus on offer! Don’t totally discount climbing apparatus out of fear though as it can develop some great skills.
When it comes to making the final decision, consider what skills are needed for safe and successful climbing as well as what other children are currently using the equipment. If significantly older children are currently on the equipment, then that implies your little one might not be suitable for it. Similarly, nobody knows the capabilities of your child better than you; if they have poor balance then rope climbing activities are likely to be a bit of a risk. Simply trust your judgement, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Obstacle Course Playground Equipment
Obstacle courses are great. They even look enjoyable for adults! The best part about obstacle courses is that they require a variety of abilities to navigate, developing multiple skills at once. Saying that, obstacle courses don’t come without risk; they test balance, speed, hand-eye coordination and precise movement – all skills that children can lack.
When making a decision, opt for the same approach as the climbing playground equipment. Check for the age of the children currently using apparatus first, then analyse what skills will be needed to use the equipment and compare them to what you know your child can deal with.
As a final option, you can always help your little one through the obstacle course once or twice. This way you can see how they feel about it before leaving them to their own devices.
When in Doubt
With these tips in mind, you should be able to make an educated decision on whether your child should use a piece of playground equipment. If you’re still unsure then you should trust your parental instinct! Either join your child and assist them as they start playing, or simply decline them for now and promise to save that part of the playground for another time.
Hope this helps!