Playground Design for Childhood Development

Playing is all a part of growing up; having a dedicated space to do it in is essential. Not only are playgrounds fun, but they also aid children's dev

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Playing is all a part of growing up; having a dedicated space to do it in is essential. Not only are playgrounds fun, but they also aid children’s development. According to playground designers, a well-designed playground can be educational, as it helps develop motor skills, fitness levels, social skills and the imagination.

Of course children need structured learning in the classroom, but the unstructured free play that playgrounds provide is also hugely beneficial as they allow children’s imaginations to run wild. Adults often think that designing a playground is child’s play, but it’s not. A playground should be more than just some monkey bars and a set of swings.

Here are some suggestions to help you design a fun, yet educational playground.

Art and Crafts

Image by |javier|

The importance of free play and being outside

According to playground designers, the best playgrounds allow children to express themselves, be creative and explore the possibilities of pretending. If a playground allows children to use their imagination freely, children will gain confidence and self-esteem, as they will want explore the world around them and will learn to develop their own rules. According to Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods), children (as well as adults) are becoming increasing disconnected from nature.

City living and technology play a huge part in this and it’s very worrying. According to Louv, this nature disconnection is giving rise to ADD and even depression, as children’s imaginations are being stifled. Regular outdoor activities are crucial to a child’s physical and mental development and playgrounds are ideal for this.

What do kids want?

When designing a playground, adults often don’t ask an important question, “What do the kids want?” According to, kids just want to have fun. They don’t think about increasing their hand-eye coordination or their social skills. They just want to play. The aim is to design a playground that brings out their natural abilities to imagine and that develops their skills without them even realising it. suggests that adults have a Design Day at school, allowing the kids to draw their own playground designs on paper. Granted, some of the designs will be impossible to implement, but you will find some excellent ideas. Children know what they like and what they don’t. According to, if children are included in the design process, they will appreciate and use the playground more

Safety first

A playground can have excellent design elements, but it has to be safe. According to, adult supervision is a must. However, the adults shouldn’t be idly chatting to each other or texting on their iPhones; they need to constantly watch the kids! In addition, the design should be age-appropriate, so no high platforms for tots. And surfaces should be safe in case of falls, preferably providing a softer, less skull-cracking landing than concrete. It’s also important to regularly check the equipment to see if there are any structural damages or potentially hazardous sharp bits. As the maxim goes: It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an eye!

An effectively designed playground will allow children’s imaginations to flourish and it will get them running, jumping, and socialising outside. In today’s world of TV and technology, children desperately need a space where they can enjoy the simple pleasures of playing. Unlike a Wii or a Playstation, it’s good for their health and their brains.

About Author
Ang Lloyd writes on behalf of Now Learning, which promotes study opportunities Down Under, including healthcare and design courses in Australia.