Safe Play

Safe Play

Enthusiasm on gaining access to new play areas and equipment can often lead to injuries. When young children start at a new school or visit a park with friends, they may have access to equipment that poses more challenges. It is important for children to learn to play responsibly, however active adult supervision is essential.

Teach children to use play areas and play equipment safely and to play suitable games. Let them think up a set of rules that they will agree to accept. Always stress why certain behaviours are inappropriate.

Safety Tips

  • Play away from cars 
  • Play somewhere soft in case of falls 
  • Play somewhere made for children 
  • Use equipment safely and sensibly
  • Report damaged or broken equipment 
  • Look after friends, especially little friends 
  • Be aware of other children playing, particularly near swings or other moving pieces of equipment
  • Take turns 
  • Play gently without violence - pushing and pulling can cause falls
  • Make sure your child is not wearing clothing or hats with cords attached that could cause entrapment or strangulation if caught in equipment
  • Choose the Right Game for the Right Place

A well-planned play area will include active, open and quiet areas. Encourage children to use these areas appropriately and respect the needs of others.

  • Rough games should only be played where the ground is soft and there is nothing hard to fall on 
  • Ball games need lots of space 
  • Chasing games are better played away from other people and buildings 
  • Quiet games and boisterous games don't really mix 
  • Try not to spoil someone else's game with your own

Orientation Program

Develop an orientation program for children beginning child care, pre school or school, or when children move from junior to senior play areas. Children should know where they will find an adult, especially in large play areas. All young children should be taught how to use their own home equipment safely.

  • Stress why it is important to use equipment correctly and that boisterous behaviour contributes to injuries 
  • Let children know which areas are allocated for ball games, quiet play or 'no running' zones 
  • Rosters, or staggered play times prevents overcrowding on equipment 
  • Devise a safety plan to cope with vandalism hazards eg. broken glass, syringes, damaged equipment 
  • Implement a reporting system for broken or damaged equipment 
  • Always have active adult supervision to support responsible play 
  • Provide other options than fixed equipment during break times - create a gardening plot or play music

The Importance of Play 

Play is a vital part of childhood and growing up. 

Play provides opportunities for children to:

  • Learn about themselves, others and the environment 
  • Stimulate their imagination and satisfy their curiosity 
  • Generate rules appropriate to a variety of situations 
  • Appreciate safety as part of their play experience 
  • Be challenged to extend and enhance their present abilities 
  • Develop logical thinking processes 
  • Develop and refine their social skills 
  • Experience enjoyment, success and build self esteem 
  • Experience creative and dramatic play 
  • Be able to interact with adults in their play area 
  • Be a confident leader, individual or team member

Through play, children develop physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills. To provide children with this learning environment a play space should incorporate areas for active, free, quiet, social, imaginative, creative, exploratory and natural play. This will allow children to learn while using their imagination. By inviting a child to use their initiative and explore possibilities we are providing them with the best opportunities to learn. Remember your own childhood. Where was your favourite place to play? ‘Get down on your knees frequently and view the environment from a child’s perspective.’ (Miers,1992). 

Active & Free Play Areas

These include open grassed areas for running, informal ball games as well as sloped areas for rolling. Do you remember how much fun it was to run down a grassy slope with your arms outstretched feeling the wind on your face? These open spaces encourage spontaneous play and often appeal to older age groups. 

Quiet Areas

Quiet areas allow the child to be alone for reading, observing and interacting with the environment; this in turn can support emotional development. A great variety of trees, shrubs and ground cover will provide scents, textures, forms, colours and sound to provide the infrastructure for imaginative and creative play. 

Social Play Areas

These include cubbies, shops and amphitheatres that encourage children to ask questions, develop language, laugh, cooperate, take turns and build self esteem.

Imaginative, Creative, Exploratory and Natural Play Areas 

These areas are often the most neglected form in children’s play spaces. They can be inexpensive, requiring some imagination on your part as well as a lot of commitment and enthusiasm. Plantings can provide scents, textures, forms, colours and wildlife in your play space. Think about sensibly arranged smooth rocks and logs and sound using wind chimes/socks etc. 

The natural play environment provides not only a setting for quality play but also offers diversity for a child’s developmental needs

Natural slopes make great places for dry creek beds. These areas can be planted out with reed like species to simulate a dry creek bed. If you include a tap at the high end, the dry creek bed becomes a watercourse. Supervision is essential as a child can drown in only 50mm of water. While water is an essential ingredient in play, water should be limited so children learn the importance of water conservation. 

Digging patches give children another medium to explore, encouraging imaginative and constructive play. These can be designed into a corner and integrated with planting.