Never Too Small to Play: Designing Inclusive, Sensory-Rich Playgrounds for Children Birth to 5!
Playing and allowing children to express their creativity is an important part of growing up. But how do you know when to start allowing your children to actually play? The answer is whenever. Children of all ages can learn to play, even if they are younger than five years old. Therefore, more playgrounds should be designed to allow even young kids to play.
How to Play with Children 5 and Under
There are plenty of activities that can be engaging even for very young children. You need to find things to do that will hold their attention for longer periods of time. Allowing them to be active and creative are some aspects that can help when choosing interesting activities for young kids. Give them things to do that will be both exciting and allow them to think. Playing is so much more than having fun because it can allow kids to grow and develop, especially when they’re at such a young age.
Playgrounds for Young Children
Many playgrounds have a recommended age posted near the entrance, but those playgrounds are typically more inclusive to children that are older than 5, all the way to age 12. So, it can sometimes be difficult for younger children to find a place to play. You will need to make sure the playgrounds that your young children play at are both safe and entertaining for them.
The most important part of selecting a playground for children 5 and under is ensuring that it is safe for them. This means that all aspects of the structure should be easily accessible and not too rigid in case the kids fall while playing. These playgrounds typically include climbers, small steps or ladders, and slides. Young children will be able to safely figure out how to climb surfaces without accidentally hurting themselves.
For children under 2 years, no surfaces of the play structure should be too high off the ground. The structure should be short and have plenty of items for children to interact with, such as simple puzzles and objects that slide or turn. These playsets don’t need to be as detailed as those created for older kids, but they should still provide kids with things they can learn from.
How is Play Different as Children Age?
Playgrounds are typically designed for different age groups, which consists of ages 6 to 23 months, 2 to 5 years, 5 to 12 years, and 13 and over. Each of these age groups is for a different developmental stage in a child’s life, which is why each age group requires different equipment for playing. As a child grows older, more can be added to the playground to help them develop even more skills. Each public playground should clearly state the recommended ages near it to encourage kids to stay safe while playing. Many parks will even include multiple playsets for multiple ages.
Even though kids ages 5 and under seem too young to play and be creative, it is never too early to start engaging them in fun activities. As long as you ensure that they stay safe, you should encourage them to play on age-appropriate playgrounds as much as possible.