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Getting Play Value From Play Areas

As early as the late 1830’s, school authorities in England have been advocating for playgrounds. They’re a great place to establish not only discipline but also control and shape how children behave. Not to mention it reinforces good behaviour.

This of course was well over half of a century before the US had constructed dedicated playgrounds but it goes to show how much people value them. Today advocates are stating the same thing and that playgrounds also help in a child’s physical abilities as well as emotional, mental, and social skills too. As a result, many communities throughout the world have playgrounds that are like safe havens that protect children from street traffic as well as urban hazards.

But how exactly can someone get the most play value out of playgrounds?

Getting The Most Play Value

To illustrate this important consideration let’s ask another question: what is more important in a public swimming pool? Is it the amount of water that’s there or the depth of the water?

With playgrounds we ask something similar: Do we go for large number of items that provide different play experiences? Or do we go for various levels of participation on each experience?

To comply with ADA rules, how many play components are on a playground is important. But so too is the quantity of opportunities to play. The problem with that is if we go with those type of metrics we oversimplify play value.

Furthermore complying with ADA rules barely doesn’t mean the playground will be a hit. Large number of play elements on a playground can also be seen as the playground being very popular and also successful. Examples of these are activity centres which are few and far between. A lot of children experience these but only on rare occasions.

Going back to ordinary playgrounds children who play there regularly and over over long lengths of time will start to lose interest in the activities. They’ll start lowering the play value of those areas or activities.

Not A Quantity Vs. Quality Issue

At the end of the day this isn’t a quality over quantity type of issue here. One of the ways that playgrounds can provide interest for kids is to offer opportunities that allow children to challenge themselves at different levels. However they can’t use the same strategies every time in order to achieve the same success.

At the core, play value isn’t some inherent attribute or a physical feature. It’s about understanding play features and being able to offer them up to children at the right moments when they play.

As William Shakespeare once said “the play is the thing!” At the end of the day we shouldn’t be concerned about the playground itself, after all it’s only a stage for children to engage in and have fun. Instead we want to be going back to the play value as well as both children and parents alike benefit from this. Children get to develop strong physical, social, and mental skills while parents get time to unwind.

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