How many times have you brought your child to the playground and found the only place to sit was on an uncomfortable bench placed directly in the sun with poor visibility of the kids?
Popular playgrounds are often the ones that offer site amenities for caregivers. When parents and caregivers are not comfortable it often means less time on the playground for children.
The Inclusive Play Design Guide offers many ideas to ensure that both adults and children are comfortable at the playground.
Here are some tips for improving the playground experience for everyone:
- Include ample seating, preferably with back support. Place seating areas in the sun as well as in the shade. Also ensure that the seating improves the line of sight for caregivers.
- Offer parents and caregivers an area to be social. Consider creating spaces for them to gather with their friends and share insights while their children play. You can accomplish this by placing a series of benches together, arranging several boulders of varying heights near one another, or by strategically placing picnic tables throughout the playground. Pavilions and gazebos also help to foster a sense of community and camaraderie among parents and caregivers.
- Include water fountains and restrooms. Playground visits are often cut short because of the lack of restrooms. Make sure that the bathrooms meet applicable ADA guidelines. Include an adult-sized changing table in the restroom. Have different level drinking fountains with easy to operate levers.
- Place trash and recycling receptacles throughout the playground to keep the area neat and tidy.
During the planning process it’s important to consider the role of parents on the playground. Do you want them playing alongside their children or do you want them supervising from a distance? This approach can help children to explore new challenges on their own. Either way is fine, but these are critical decisions that will influence the placement and types of amenities at the playground.
If you are looking to create a playspace for children and adults then you may want to consider adding adult playground features such as Playworld Systems’ ENERGI to encourage the entire family to play and engage in physical activity together. Do the site amenities at your local playground foster or hinder participation from caregivers?