What to expect the first week of school? An increase in playground injury rates and what you can do about it is the topic of this issue of the Essential Slyde Newsletter. Read on . . .
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BACK TO SCHOOL – ARE YOUR PLAYGROUND SUPERVISORS READY?
Playground Maintenance Corp. dba Playground Medic
Most playground accidents happen within the first five minutes of running out to recess! Excited to be reunited with friends after summer vacation, our children are not always aware of obstacles between them and their friends. Supervisors are also reuniting with workmates; they may not see an eminent hazard on the playground.
The acceptable ratio of adults to children on the playground is 1:20 – 1:30. Do the adults know what to look for? Do they know where to position themselves so they can see all the activities on the playground? Can they recognize hazards on the playground? It is important that schools treat training for playground supervision and maintenance with the importance that it deserves. Accidents will happen and children will get hurt, it’s just a part of being a kid. Although good playground supervision won’t guarantee that there will never be accidents, as children play in unpredictable ways and not every situation can be anticipated. Good training can reduce the likelihood of serious accidents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an average of 200,000 children are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms from injuries sustained on the playground. About 45 percent of these injuries happen on school playgrounds.
Always make sure children are supervised on play equipment and that supervisors are trained to ensure the safest way to play!
Risky Play – A Necessary Part of a Child’s Development
While the debate continues between overprotective parents and free-range parenting, the need for children to learn from taking risks for their developmental growth is well documented. Risky play allows children to learn from experience and gain understanding of consequences of their actions as well as the extent of their abilities. The opportunities to succeed or fail at risky endeavors allow children to develop risk management skills that are not learned if they are not allowed to engage in risky play.
In an article written by Chad Kennedy, landscape architect, he noted: “The essence of risky play is a child's attempt to manage perceived danger in an environment with the reward of excitement, achievement and exhilaration.” Children love a challenge, and they enjoy the sense of mastery they can achieve over their bodies and their fears. If the reward outweighs the risk, children will take on the risky play.
Chad identifies six categories of risky play that children will actively seek:
- Great Heights - Climbing, jumping, balancing, hanging
- High Speed - Swinging, sliding, running, bicycling, skating
- Dangerous Tools - Cutting, poking, whipping, sawing, lashing, tying
- Dangerous Elements - Elevation change, water, fire
- Mock-Aggression - Wrestling, fencing, play fighting
- Disappearing / Getting Lost - Exploring unknown environments
Play environments with climbing walls and nets, swings, slides, and balancing elements all allow children to face their fears as they perceive the risk involved in playing on the playground equipment. Playgrounds need to be challenging enough to engage children, and the task for playground manufacturers is to produce equipment that meets safety standards without over sanitizing them to the point that children do not find them fun.
The playground industry has rightly addressed safety concerns, such as hazards to children on playground equipment that could result in entanglements, entrapments, and injuries due to protrusions or falls. Parents, caregivers, and playground supervisors need to be award of hazards and situations that children may not be able to comprehend or foresee. Slyde the Playground Hound endeavors to promote the message of playground safety that allows children to have fun and challenge themselves in a safe way.
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