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Give Your School Playground A New Lease Of Life.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Young people never believe adults when we tell them that their school years are the best years of their lives; no doubt they will spend the rest of their working lives, like the rest of us, wishing that they could go back. Teaching is vital to a child’s development, but so are the hours spent in the playground, as they learn how to interact, socialise, and the most important skill of all – how to get across the monkey bars one handed.

A good playground is essential for any school – no matter how good the teachers and curriculum, it’s vital that children are provided with good facilities for playtime. Many a happy memory is made in the playground, so it has to contain equipment that is fun and inspiring as well assafe, of course. So what does a good playground need?

Spread out
Space is at a premium, but even if you don’t have acres of room, it’s important to lay out the playground so that the different areas are clearly defined. The climbing frame needs to be away from the space for running around, for example, so that children can decide what they want to do. If you have plenty of space and nothing to define it with, simply paint a hopscotch or square ball space. Sometimes lines on the ground are all it takes to inspire children.

If the playground is looking tired, perhaps there is a wall that the children can paint? Designing a mural is a great class activity, and unveiling the mural is an exciting event. It will brighten the space up as well as providing the opportunity for a small-scale ‘community project’.

Go green
Climbing frames are not the only thing that make a playground a good place in which to spend time. If you are in an inner city location and grass is not an option, you can still make a nature area with some benches and a couple of allotment or flower boxes. These will give the playground some colour, but will also provide the children with a project to take responsibility for, and they will quickly learn how to care for the plants.

Invest in equipment
A good quality climbing frame will last for a long time. Monkey bars, a ladder and a slide are all that is needed to get children enthused about climbing, and will promote physical and mental stimulation. It’s never a climbing frame, after all, but a pirate ship, dungeon, flying carpet, runaway train…

Not everyone will want to play
Good playgrounds have plenty of space for fun, but they should also offer a quiet corner. Children get tired easily and can become distressed if there’s nowhere to sit down and rest. At least one water fountain should also be available, as hydration is vital for growth and concentration. Good playground design necessitates working with what you’ve got – the more space you have, the easier it is to design a playtime fantasy land. A good option is to ask the children themselves, although be prepared for some expensive ideas.

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