With times changing, playgrounds are becoming a lot more accessible for children who have certain disabilities. These types of playgrounds are known as “inclusive playgrounds” and offer a wide amount of benefits not only to disabled children but to other kids as well.
There are many different types of inclusive playground equipment for schools which you could incorporate to create a diverse outdoor space.
Ideas for Inclusive Play Areas
The key idea to keep in mind is that every piece of equipment should be suitable for children with disabilities. This doesn’t mean that the playground must be totally different from the usual ones. Slides, tunnels and sensory stations can stay the same. Check out our post on school play equipment to find out more about the different options. By keeping these the same, children who are used to regular playgrounds will feel more comfortable due to the environment being more recognisable.
Certain things like swings, playhouses and climb walls will usually have to be developed to be accessible for disabled children. Usually, swing seats are adjusted so they can support the back of the child, playhouses have ramps meaning wheelchairs can be pushed up and climb walls are given more support, so children with disabilities can still be challenged and not find it too hard to join in.
However, certain things are important to include when thinking of ideas for inclusive play areas. Quiet spaces are great to allow children to have a moment to relax and not become too overwhelmed. Seating areas are another great thing as sometimes kids can become uncomfortable without rest, so giving them an area to chill is important. There are plenty of simple ways to refresh your playground if you feel it needs some improvement, check out this post for more details on this.
Outdoor Activities for Children of all Abilities
Incorporating a mixture of group activities and individual play is a great idea with these types of playgrounds. With a mixture like this, children can not only increase their teamwork abilities but can improve their independence while at school. It’s important to offer outdoor activities for children of all abilities so everyone can have a meaningful experience.
Group work can be challenged by simple things like noughts and crosses, which requires both players to be respectful and play by the rules. Sandboxes are another great way to increase group work as all the kids could be working together on one big project. As they complete their work, they will start to realise how much they can accomplish together compared to by themselves. Of course, group work doesn’t just mean taking part, but even giving support on things like climbing walls can suffice. There are so many benefits of outdoor play which you can discover.
Individual play activities include things such as climbing walls, sensory stations etc. Using these activities, kids can start to focus on themselves and understand how far they push themselves to achieve things that they want to achieve. It’s a great way for children to understand that some activities don’t require a team and that they are more than capable of performing the action by themselves. It creates independence, whilst also creating a better knowledge of teamwork. You could also install various types of SEN play equipment which are designed towards children with Special Educational Needs.
Diverse Playground Designs
When designing these types of playgrounds, there are some common features that are usually requested. Bright colours and thermoplastic graphics are incredibly common on these types of playgrounds due to the way of how they can encapsulate the child’s imagination, meaning the child can be occupied without even being on any piece of equipment.
Another thing to note is the actual surfacing material. Wetpour and Rubber Mulch are the most common types of surfacing in these types of playgrounds due to the ability to absorb impact and how they can be patterned/coloured. A lot of people opt-in for this type of surfacing on inclusive playgrounds.
Soft Surfaces have had over 20 years of experience in this industry and are more than happier to help with any questions or enquiries you may have. We can help with any part of the process and make sure that you are given some of the best information surrounding the subject. If you have any ideas or questions about inclusive playground equipment for schools, then send us an email today to get in contact with one of our members.
5 Elements of Inclusive Play
When it comes to developing an inclusive playground, there are five main elements which are usually kept in mind to ensure that the playground meets every child’s requirements. These five elements are:
- Physical – As the child is engaging with the playground, they need opportunities to be physically active. This allows to release some stress and excitement for the child and therefore, gives them the chance to get themselves exhausted. Climbing in the playground is a great form of exercise and fun for children.
- Cognitive – Physical play is important, as well as cognitive games as children are given the chance to improve their thinking abilities. Giving them challenges to do which require problem-solving and logical thinking will help them build on their existing cognitive skills.
- Social – Through play, children can become more confident in social situations as this type of environment encourages pupils from different backgrounds to interact with each other. Doing this allows children to understand how some people are different and starts to build a great mindset on accepting everyone.
- Communication – To fully get the benefits of the playground, children often play with others. Swings become easier to use, climbing becomes less scary and playtime becomes more fun overall. Achieving this requires communication, which inclusive playgrounds like this help children get better with their expressions and communications.
- Sensory – Children don’t know much about the world around them, but through sensory play activities this can be changed. With the senses all being put into effect, kids learn at an accelerated rate about the environment they find themselves in. It’s a great way to educate and introduce them to the bigger world around them. These areas can be designed to support children with Sensory Processing Disorders on the playground too.
All five elements blend themselves together nicely and can work together effectively to create a strong inclusive playground. Many playgrounds usually focus on one of these five elements, but the opposite is true with inclusive playground equipment for schools as the aim is to make the environment perfect to improve all areas at the same time, whilst being accessible for children with disabilities.