Meeting the needs of toddlers and preschoolers on the playground

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It’s important to keep the developmental needs of toddlers and preschoolers in mind when you’re designing playgrounds for your childcare facility or school. Playgrounds for young kids not only help them build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills, but they also teach them about cooperation and social imaginative play.

Keep the following five considerations in mind when designing early childhood playgrounds:

  1. Interaction Interactive playground features allow kids to get firsthand experience of the principle of cause-and-effect.
  2. Sensory Playgrounds should provide children a wealth of different tactile experiences, which can come from play with textured surfaces and by incorporating natural materials like sand and water.
  3. Challenge Play environments with developmentally appropriate challenges and puzzle-like features can help instill critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  4. Imagination Children should be able to use various components of the playground to express their creativity and to invent imaginative scenarios.
  5. Independence Playground structures should allow kids to feel independent through solo play, which fosters confidence and creativity without sacrificing safety.

Find more resources for your daycare of preschool playground including ways to keep your playground safe, information on fundraising and playground grants, and some of our key partnerships at playlsi.com.

Reconnecting kids with nature

In the past few years, we’ve noticed an increase in childcare facilities focused on nature-inspired activities and nature-themed playground equipment. And the Early Childhood Family Center (ECFC) in Stillwater, Minn., is just one example of a childcare facility providing opportunities for kids to reconnect with nature.

Early Childhood Family Center in Stillwater, Minn.

“Our ECFC chose a nature-inspired playground, which accents the surrounding landscape,” explained Betty Soine, early childhood supervisor. “Also, research supports the value of using natural environments to encourage children’s overall growth and development. Our parent education program encourages parents to get outside with children during all seasons to experience the variety of outdoor environments, breathe the fresh air and explore the wonders of nature through the eyes of their child. An outdoor play environment that mimics nature supports a health and wellness focus for all our families and staff.”

Help kids develop their balance with the Infant Balance Beam.

The Early Childhood Family Center added a nature-inspired playground designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months. The Infant Single Poly Slide, Infant Balance Bar and Chimes Panel provide the right amount of sensory stimulation, balance, coordination and strength challenges. Even more, a play space for kids ages 2 to 5 has realistic bark, wood and rock textures, natural colors and discovery items like chipmunks, worms and insects built into the Log Stack Climber, Log Steppers and Recycled Tree House Roofs.

Provide age-appropriate climbing challenge with the Log Stack Climber.

“Equipment was chosen with children of all abilities in mind,” said Betty. “Our team of staff professionals studied and selected types of equipment that could support building strength, mobility and cognitive skills through interactive outdoor play. The children are engaged in all types of movement and activities everyday that encourage and support physical, social and emotional, language and cognitive development. Our nature-inspired playground does exactly what we envisioned and more!”