One playground is much like another – at least that has been the assumption for many years when it comes to the spaces we create for kids to play in. You might get a basketball court, a climbing frame and some swings, maybe a few other pieces of equipment. However, most playground spaces have been designed based on what adults think will work for kids to keep them occupied for a little while. What’s been missing is the acknowledgement that the way playgrounds are designed can actually have an impact on the behaviour of the children that use them – so how does that work?
Changing playtime behaviour
One school that upgraded the design of its playground, changing it from a dull and uninspiring space to somewhere interactive and colourful, found that the behaviour of children during break time became “supercharged.” Instead of wandering around listlessly the children were engaging in a lot more physical activity, including running, climbing and other forms of fast paced action. This has a lot of benefits for children of all ages. It can not only nurture better social and economic development but helps to keep obesity levels down and improve academic performance.
How can you get kids to be more active?
A lot of research has been carried out into how we can encourage children to be more active when it comes to playground time. The results of this have found some simple solutions to triggering play including:
- Bright colours. One study by Gareth Stratton, a sports and exercise scientist then at Liverpool John Moores University in England found that colourful designs on the playground changed how children used the space. Football no longer dominated the playground and kids could be more imaginative and creative. The designs also made kids want to play more – activity increased by around a third.
- Loose play equipment. Anything, from a hula hoop to balls counts as loose play equipment and can be crucial to helping kids get involved. One study found that the number of children engaged in vigorous play activity was 10% higher where there was loose play equipment available.
- Unusual play equipment. Another way to spark activity and creativity is to give children unusual equipment to play with. Everything from milk crates to foam noodles counts as unusual equipment – as long as it’s safe for kids to experiment with. The key to this is not to provide instructions but to leave the equipment in the playground and let the children use it in whatever way they choose.
- More varied landscapes. We are used to the same, flat paved playgrounds but these can be uninspiring spaces for children. Instead, studies have found that children respond well to areas that have more variation, whether that’s adding hills and slopes or obstacle trails and climbing walls.
The better the playground space the more likely children are going to want to engage in activity that is good for them. From increasing fitness to improving academic focus the benefits of this are plentiful.
Get in touch with us to find out how our recycled rubber for play areas can help.