As children get older their wants and needs from play areas change rapidly. The KS2 age group need playground equipment that is a lot more challenging than those used by younger children, as well as this, their social skills are much more developed at this age meaning that more social play is recommended. Children in this age group also want play equipment that allows them to be more independent and which includes more of a risk element.
This combination of needs mean that designing play areas for older children can bring a unique range of challenges, however these tips will help:
Choosing the right playground equipment
Older children need playground equipment that will challenge them mentally and physically, as well as having a higher risk factor. This means that playground equipment that is physically higher and includes difficult activities, such as net climbing frames, will help to keep older children interested in the equipment. As well as this, ensure that the equipment you choose is mentally challenging as well as physically, this means adding something that includes problem solving or that can be used in multiple ways, as this will help to retain older children’s interest.
While older children enjoy a higher element of risk, it is still essential that all safety precautions are in place to avoid children injuring themselves. This means that it is vital that the right size and type of safety surfacing is added for the height and type of playground equipment installed. In addition to this, it is important to ensure that the right fencing is installed to ensure that no unauthorised people are able to access the play area, as well as to ensure children remain within the play area.
Creating a sense of independence
Unlike younger children, who still need the security of adult supervision, older children prefer a greater sense of independence. This means that it is recommended that play areas are designed to give older children a sense of freedom, but still enable the supervision of adults. Installing playground equipment with an element of risk helps children feel that they are making decisions independently.
Another good way of creating a sense of independence for older children is to install sports equipment that requires children to organise themselves into teams such as basketball hoops and football goals. This give children a chance to develop their social skills, as well as making them feel a sense of independence.
KS2 is a great age in which to encourage fitness that can continue as children get older. Fitness trails are a fun way to encourage children to exercise and can be created to create a mixture of upper and lower body exercises, as well as testing fitness levels and balancing skills. Encouraging fitness in a relaxed environment at this age helps children to have a positive experience with exercise, something that will encourage them to be more active as they get older.
Our next blog post will provide information and advice on how to design a play areas for public spaces, highlighting the unique challenges this creates.