Playgrounds are meant to be an area which everyone can enjoy. However, they can sometimes be incredibly daunting for children who have special needs. This blog will cover how designing a SEN playground is important and how it can benefit kids and schools.
Special Needs Outdoor Playground
Special needs children require different environments compared to other kids. Due to the main problems being sensory overload, physical restrictions and difficulties in social interactions, the design process should have these factors included to avoid any problems from occurring. It’s vital to avoid children with learning difficulties suffering during play time.
Regardless of what the child might have, they should still be catered for. Ofsted bases their ratings highly on equality on how special needs kids are treated compared to other pupils. A balance of fairness is required to achieve a higher rating and by creating the play facility to reflect that can make your school rated even higher.
Not only that, but during play time, many children who have special educational needs will find themselves feeling excluded and isolated from everyone else. Creating a playground which allows everyone to have fun is key to avoiding these feelings from occurring. It’s a great way to help these children who find it difficult to socialise make friends. Visit this post to find out more about the various learning opportunities children can find on the playground.
SEN Play Area Designs
Area designation is key to create a fully functioning playground that allows all pupils to have fun and enjoy. A few ideas that many SEN Play areas have include features such as:
- Quiet areas – As previously mentioned, many special needs children can suffer with sensory overload and become in a panicked state of mind. By having a quiet area which reduces sound and maybe includes a plain colour palette and patterns which will relax the senses. You can install playground furniture in these areas to make them more comfortable.
- Daily sensations areas – SEN play areas can include features which encourage children to interact with them through their senses. Preparing them for their daily lives and how they will encounter different senses, these daily sensations will gradually get them used to encountering new environments.
- Performance areas – Restrictions of social interactions can stop special needs children from reaching their goals. They will often be quiet in lesson due to fear of being mocked. However, performance areas enhance their confidence by allowing them to feel like they can act however they want for the performance.
These SEN play area designs are incredibly popular when it comes to the development of one of these playgrounds. Feel free to create your own ideas but these are just a few of the most popular ones that have been developed and may help you start the development process of your SEN playground. Find out more about children with special educational needs and how you can create a positive play area for them here.
Playgrounds for Special Educational Needs
Creating playgrounds for special educational needs requires a lot of planning and designing in advance to keep the area suitable for everyone. A key factor which many people overlook when creating a playground is the surfacing of it.
Bright colours and wacky patterns may seem like a good idea at first but if they are too bright and vibrant and cause too much thinking, then replacing them with a bit more of a calming colour tone and pattern is a much better idea. Sensory overload can lead to children panicking during playtime and leading to many problems disrupting on the playground.
Materials should also be considered for the surfacing as well. Giving the children protection from falls and trips is important, especially special needs kids who may find themselves getting injured a lot more frequently. Shock pads would be a great investment for this problem as they can take a lot of the stress out of the fall and stop many injuries from occurring. A common surface for these areas is wetpour safety flooring which helps reduce impact from trips and falls.
Another good thing to include would be simple signs. Children with special educational needs may have a great memory with facts but may struggle to remember daily routines and instructions. Including simple signs, which prompt straight to the point actions, will help kids like this remember certain instructions and get them into a daily cycle.
Sensory Play Activities
Sensory overload has been mentioned a lot throughout this article since it’s a major problem amongst SEN children. Many other pupils are big fans of these types of activities which can lead to children who suffer with sensory overload feeling scared of rejection as they don’t want to take part in the activity. Check out this post to learn more about cooperative play which can help children work together and learn new skills.
Inclusion can still occur however. By designing sensory play activities with this thought in mind, all types of children can take part in them without feeling forgotten about or ignored. A great way to introduce them to SEN playgrounds is by starting off small. Introduce kids to water and sand in controlled environments to avoid any stress being evident. Offering inclusive play areas is important in making sure every child feels welcome on the playground.
Once achieved, you can start introducing them to more expansive environments which include more materials and substances. Encouraging the kids to get involved will help them start to feel comfortable as they will start to recognise it as a common occurrence in their daily routine. It’s important to be able to make them comfortable with their environment.