All children deserve safe places to play. However, what is best for the child will change over time. Children need play equipment to adapt to their growing bodies and developmental abilities.
Therefore, most play equipment is designed for specific age groups, taking into account factors such as physical and cognitive development. In most cases, age-appropriate equipment is chosen to examine the details of the subject. Determining whether existing play equipment will benefit a particular age group is a bit tricky. So, you should be prepared to find out what to expect from play equipment for certain age groups.
This knowledge will help you create a safe and fun playground for any age group. The age range for the playground is important so that children can have fun with the equipment. Children who play with equipment that is not appropriate for their size or developmental level may not enjoy it.
If it’s too hard, they won’t be able to use the equipment, and if it’s too easy, they might not feel challenging enough. As children grow rapidly from 6 months to 12 years of age, the equipment they play on also changes over time. Playgrounds for younger children have a very different layout and equipment than playgrounds for older children.
Therefore, it may be necessary to separate playgrounds for children under 23 months from children between 2 and 12 years old to provide space for a wider age group. These separate areas can help prioritize safety and create age-appropriate fun for the kids they play with.
As children mature, they quickly develop new skills, especially the ability to walk and respond quickly to sudden stimuli. Younger children may not be as adept at these skills as older children.
Therefore, young children in the playground with preschoolers may face potential risks. Separate playgrounds for toddlers and older children eliminate this risk factor. For example, in a nursery with toddlers and preschoolers, two playground options should be selected: one for a playground for children aged 6 months to 23 months and another for preschoolers aged 2 to 5 years. Separate areas protect younger children, who may have slower reactions and slower movements, from older and more advanced preschoolers.
Children need to feel challenged in the playground. Otherwise, they may get bored with the equipment. Installing the right play equipment can prevent boredom. The equipment must be of the right size and height so that children in this age group can reach and enjoy using it.
The more they play, the more they want to play. When kids want to spend more time on the playground, they can benefit from unstructured play, such as overcoming physical challenges, social connection, and creativity.
Another reason why age-appropriate equipment is critical is that it can minimize children’s feelings of frustration. When children try to play on equipment that is too big or complex for their development, they may feel frustrated and not want to play at all.
You don’t want children not to have positive associations with playgrounds. So you can reduce their frustration by making sure every child has playground equipment they can use, regardless of age or ability.
Age-appropriate playgrounds give children the space they need to have fun with equipment appropriate for their size and physical development. Ideally, playground equipment should create small challenges for children to increase fun and help develop their growing physical skills. Choosing equipment according to age groups will give children the opportunity to experience the types of tasks that suit their needs.
Not all children will be ready to participate in social games for as much time as they spend on the playground. Therefore, you should have equipment that takes into account the social development of children, based on their age.
For example, young children are still working on physical and mental development and focus on sensory play. They may not have the creative or social skills to participate in group play.
Therefore, playgrounds for toddlers often lack equipment that requires the joint efforts of large groups. Instead, these playgrounds encourage individual exploration of different places, sounds, textures, and movements. Preschool and school-age children are likely to need playground equipment that allows them to play both in a group and individually. Creative themed play areas can encourage children to engage in imaginative play with others.
Other elements that require cooperation between children include slides, swings, or classic tire swings. The appropriate age for play equipment usually corresponds to the stages of development and social interaction of children. Thus, these age groups often reflect the level of education of children, which also helps schools and kindergartens to easily select equipment based on the students in their care. Young children need many options for developing gross motor skills.
At this stage of development, they move from crawling to walking. However, many children make this transition at different times. Thus, a play area for children aged 6 to 23 months will require strict supervision by adults who help babies crawl and those who walk to enjoy the equipment. Because very young children may not be able to climb large play structures, play areas for these ages tend to focus on providing children with smaller play equipment and sensory experiences.
For example, Tot Tree is small enough for small children to crawl or just walk around. In addition, its bright colors and treehouse style design draws the attention of children. Another way children can have fun on playgrounds is with equipment that allows them to stand up, crawl, climb, or stand.
Preschoolers aged 2 to 5 are more confident on their feet. They can move faster than when they were children and have more strength. Therefore, playground equipment must reflect these growing trends.
For the younger children in this group, ages 2 to 4, you should have swing bucket seats. However, children over 5 years of age can generally use a standard belt swing. Similarly, climbing equipment for the smallest in this group must meet the same 32-inch maximum height required for children’s equipment. However, children aged 4 to 5 can usually climb stairs and equipment up to 60 inches high.
Preschoolers also like to pretend. So make sure you have enough options to engage their imagination. For example, preschoolers enjoy designs that encourage role play, such as toddler playhouses. With enough space inside each playhouse, children can enhance imaginative play and develop necessary social skills.
Even children of this age continue to explore the world through the senses. Therefore, sensory walls can help them experience different textures, sounds, and sights. These walls work well with other play structures, creating miniature villages for children to play with.
Because children in this age group may have different developmental needs, children in the preschool playground must be closely supervised to ensure children are entertained and use appropriate play equipment. The choice of playground for children from 2 to 12 years old includes elements for both preschoolers and older children.
However, differences in size, physical ability, and social skills mean that older and younger children who play on this type of playground need close adult supervision at all times. While this type of playground saves space, it still requires more supervision by a competent adult. Ideally, older children should have a separate play area from younger children.
Playgrounds for primary school children have elements that can challenge all children aged 5 to 12. Children within this range can enjoy swings with straps and tires. They may also use equipment that requires physical effort.
The extra height and strength required for them makes them too advanced for 2 year olds or toddlers. But older children in elementary school may face the challenges they crave. One of the main differences between playgrounds for children aged 5 to 12 compared to playgrounds for younger groups is the size and use of climbing equipment. These playgrounds allow for spiral slides that rotate more than 360 degrees, have higher ladders, shared play equipment, and greater drop heights.
For example, the Silo Scramble has a drop height of 8 feet. This is much higher than the maximum gear height for toddlers, which is 32 inches.
Elevated climbing elements such as elevated loops or horizontal ladders are not suitable for younger children because young children do not have sufficient upper body strength to support themselves during these activities. Therefore, climbers do not appear on playgrounds for preschoolers and young children. However, school-age children can safely play on these items to strengthen their upper body and force themselves to move between parts of the playground.