Special to California Business Journal.
Outdoor spaces are tremendously important for any child’s nursery. Our kids learn through play, and being able to do it safely outdoors gives them a chance to learn more about what their bodies can do, to experience nature, to bond with their peers, and get some exercise and fresh air. Most kids love to play outside, and by providing a safe outdoor play area, you give them a fantastic educational opportunity, as well as an excellent way to have fun with their friends and develop both gross and fine motor skills.
But a big concern when it comes to outdoor play and commercial playground equipment is always going to be safety. Yes, children have accidents, and cuts and bumps are common. Small accidents and injuries help children learn more about safety and give them the chance to create their own boundaries. But you certainly don’t want any serious accidents. Here are some tips to help you design a safe outdoor play area for your nursery.
Consider Your Space
You might be tempted to try and fit as much equipment into your outdoor space as you possibly can. But this is a mistake. Kids will be overwhelmed, they’ll fall over each other, they won’t be able to enjoy what’s on offer, and you might be creating hazards by overcrowding your outdoor area. Remember, even with every toy in the world, sometimes kids just want to run free. Make sure they’ve got the space to do this safely.
Find the Right Equipment
Outdoor equipment isn’t all equal. Poor quality equipment is dangerous. It can break easily, cause splinters and scrapes, be a slip hazard and otherwise not function as you’d like it. However, Play and Park Structures have a huge choice of top of the range commercial playground equipment that is all 100% safe, and there are options to fit even smaller outdoor spaces. Consider the age of the children at your nursery, your budget, how much space you’ve got, and any specific safety considerations before placing an order for new outdoor equipment.
Make Flooring a Priority
Most injuries that happen in parks and playgrounds don’t occur on the equipment but on the floor. Kids fall over, they trip over their own feet, they tumble as they come off the bottom of a slide, and they graze their knees on the ground. Make sure the floor under your equipment is weatherproof, non-slip, soft, and as safe as possible.
Create a Learning Space
Outdoor play areas are a great way to learn. Add outdoor instruments, building blocks, an outdoor reading area, and a water table and sandpit. Encourage children to experiment with different textures, sounds, and materials, and don’t be scared to try new things. Just make sure things are kept clean, and any broken equipment is either fixed or taken away straight away.
Once you’ve designed and installed your outdoor play area, maintenance becomes crucial. Without proper cleaning and maintenance, even the safest outdoor area can become filled with hazards. Make sure children are supervised when outside and make changes if ever you need to.