Play is an important part of any child care experience, and outdoor play is particularly valuable for young children. It gives them a chance for exercise and fresh air. While outdoor play does offer a lot of value, it is important for child care providers to manage the risks that can exist on a playground. The following are some of the ways that child care facilities can maintain a safe playground while still allowing children to have fun and play outdoors.
Adult supervision is one of the most important elements in playground safety. Whenever there are children playing outside they still need to be within sight and sound of staff at all times. This will also aide in adults being able to teach children how to play safely. Adults need to teach children the right ways to use different pieces of equipment and continuously monitor them. Children can have a hard time understanding and evaluating the risk that may come from different actions. It is up to the staff to make sure children are safe.
Playground design can also play an important role in safety. When a playground is designed with safety in mind, it can significantly reduce the chances of a child getting injured. To start, you want to make sure the equipment is appropriate for the age of the children. Older children can do things that younger children cannot, so you want to make sure the equipment is safe for the age group of the children that are going to be using it. Additionally, you want to have equipment that is designed for safety. A thorough check of the playground should be done by the maintenance staff and any hazards should be repaired immediately or removed. Consider using a certified playground inspector annually- they have specialized training to give a detailed report of the status of the playground and equipment.
Playground equipment also needs regular maintenance. As mentioned above, a child care center should have equipment inspected, and staff should always be on the lookout for equipment that is broken or needs maintenance. Along with looking for broken parts, you also want to make sure the material is in good shape. If the equipment is made of wood, you want to look for signs of cracking or splintering. If it is made from metal, you should look for rust or any sharp edges. You also want to check the surface materials under the equipment. Over time, the ground or the materials under the equipment can become hard. To prevent injury, the equipment and the surfaces will need to be maintained. Surfaces must have enough depth to be shock absorbing. This means after the winter months, you may need to replace things such as wood chips.