Any daycare worth its salt knows the importance of providing its students with a safe learning environment that’s also fun, which is why putting together an indoor playground is something that shouldn’t be rushed, and takes careful planning and consideration.
There are many factors involved in the process, including layout and design, age-range of the children, safety standards, maintenance, and so much more when establishing a playground.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at some safety standards and overall useful tips and tricks for buying indoor playground equipment for your daycare.
Why is a Playground Important?
The role of a daycare isn’t just to play babysitter while mom and dad are away at work. Running an efficient daycare is all about providing little ones with a safe space where they can learn and explore. It’s meant to foster a child’s social skills and early development during their most formidable years.
With that said, implementing a daycare playground for toddlers is crucial and can only further support a daycare’s goals through creativity and imaginative play. It allows children to explore the environment around them, relieve stress, and have some fun!
Plan Your Playground
The first thing to keep in mind when designing your playground is to keep it age-appropriate. Don’t be beguiled by all the snazzy new playground equipment out there, the key is to consider the ages of the children who will be playing and designing a playground that will best promote skill development, sensory and interactive play for their ages.
Some equipment might look great and be 100% safe, but it might also be too complicated for a child and would be a waste of space and money, which is why you should have a good understanding of each age and stages of development.
If your playground is for toddlers and preschool-aged children, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Children up to 1 year old are going hitting new physical and cognitive developmental milestones all the time. This includes increased strength and balance, motor skills, and so much more.
- Children between the ages 2-5 play in a much more creative and imaginative way, so you want to consider a playground design that will challenge their newfound skills.
Playground Safety Standards
Kids are full of energy and therefore liable to getting hurt when playing on a playground. This can’t always be avoided, but what you can prevent are injuries related to the playground equipment and structure.
Playgrounds should always be built with safety at top of mind. Here are a few general considerations for playground safety:
Picking a site
Make sure the playground is constructed in a safe space. Indoor playgrounds are a great option since they are protected from the elements, but you still need to as yourself: are there hazardous objects nearby that a child could run into or harm themselves on?
Your playground area should be organized appropriately to prevent injury. More active and physical play areas should separate from quieter ones so children don’t get hurt running between the two. Moving equipment, for example, such as swings, should be placed towards the edge of a playground or to the side. Ends of slides should be placed in an open area of the playground.
It’s important that whoever is supervising playground use is knowledgeable in safe playing behavior, and should be a professional.
No matter how many kids you have at your daycare, a playground should never become congested. There should be ample room for children to play without knocking each other over or bumping into equipment.
Buying safe equipment
Be sure to closely examine safety standards and only buy your playground equipment from a reputable company that cares about safety. Any high-quality business should be able to explain how every piece of equipment they sells meets safety standards.
Maintain your equipment
This one is key! It’s absolutely crucial to maintain your equipment long after you buy it. This means routine inspection of all parts—check surfaces, equipment pieces, and all play areas for signs of damage.
You also want to make sure you keep the equipment manuals handy. These will give you a greater understanding of the maintenance involved to ensure a safe play space.
It’s important to realize that playground equipment doesn’t last forever, no matter how reputable the company you bought it from is. Wear and tear happens! Keep a maintenance schedule and recognize when equipment is outdated since it can pose a hazard. If you’re unsure about whether or not the equipment is damaged or outdated, contact a professional at Playground Outfitters to see if they can help.
The Right Equipment
Toddlers (6-23 months)
The best playground equipment for toddlers who are beginning to crawl and even walk would be single file step ladders, swings with bucket seats, climbing equipment that’s under 32 inches in height, and spring rockers.
Preschool (2-5 years)
For this age group, some appropriate equipment includes ramps, swings with belts or bucket seats, rung ladders, slides, and spring rockers.
Grade school (5-12 years)
For these bigger kids, there is much more equipment you can work with, such as ramps, slides, sliding poles, spiral slides, seesaws, ladders, climbing equipment, and chain or cable walkways.
Whether you’re building a small indoor playground or a massive themed play space, you always want to prioritize safety. While creating a fun and creative play space is a big component of buying indoor playground equipment for a daycare, safety standards should never be overlooked.
Create a plan for your playgrounds, look at the ages of the students when considering purchases, think about design, put in time to research the best companies selling equipment, and pay attention to maintenance and upkeep. With these key points in mind, you’re well on your way to creating a space of fun and inspiration for your toddlers!