Playtime for everyone: the importance of designing inclusive playgrounds
We often talk about the importance of play for children’s physical, emotional and social development. Of course, it’s essential to be mindful of the needs of all children when it comes to designing the best play areas for them.
How can playgrounds be made more inclusive?
When it comes to designing a playground, we must always bear in mind children with special educational needs to guarantee their inclusion and make sure that they can enjoy all the benefits of play, such as learning new skills, but above all, having fun.
Safety and security is obviously of paramount importance. Anyone looking after children needs to feel reassured that the perimeter of a play area is secure, so that it is easy to supervise them. Secure fencing, that still makes a play area attractive and welcoming, is essential.
A quiet retreat in the playground
Playgrounds, as we know, can be very noisy, full of children shouting, running and jumping. This can become very overwhelming. That’s one of the reasons that it’s a good idea to include an area of the playground that can be a more peaceful place for children to retreat to. Children with sensory processing issues will especially enjoy having a quiet retreat where they can re-centre if they need to. All children can benefit from some ‘down time’ and some quieter play activities can be provided here too, such as our popular story telling chair.
Easy to navigate playgrounds
It’s a good idea to make the playground itself easy to navigate and find your way around. Children can become disorientated and feel lost very quickly. Designing a play area with an intuitive route around it and a clearly marked pathway is helpful so that children can work their way around and easily find their way to the next piece of play equipment or back to where they started.
Providing opportunities for sensory play
Sensory play equipment provides a lovely way to play for everyone but is even more important for children who may have special educational needs, such as visual impairment or mobility issues. Sand and water are fantastic options for many children, while our play panels also provide great opportunities too.
Getting the right balance
For many children, their favourite part of the playground is where they can practise their balancing ability. Building balance skills is useful for all abilities, so it is a good idea to build in a range of balancing activities – from sitting to standing to moving.