Page 2 of 2
By Pam Gelman, M.A.
When parents are checking out a preschool's playground, they should note the following:
Location: If the play yard is not accessible directly from the classroom, parents need to walk to the outdoor space and note any potential hazards, such as cracks in or prickly plants near the walkway. Also, there should not be any open bodies of water or access to the street. The yard needs to have boundaries or fencing on all sides.
Play structures: Stationary play structures should have an empty zone extending at least six feet. The height of these structures should also be no higher than six feet. Swings should be two to three feet apart to prevent collisions, and the swing zone should be twice the height of the swing beam. Foundations need to be securely anchored, without any exposed large or sharp pieces of hardware. "Parents should look to see that the equipment is well maintained with no loose nuts and bolts," suggests Thompson.
Surface materials: To prevent serious injuries from falls , there needs to be a soft surface under playground equipment and extending six feet in all directions. The depth of the surfacing depends on the material and testing, but "we still feel strongly that the depth be 12 inches since people are not careful about keeping the depth at an evenly raked height," says Thompson. Loose-fill materials that work well are sand, loose wood products or loose rubber pieces. Pea gravel is a common surface material, although "it is probably best not to have for preschool children since they might consider eating the gravel," says Thompson.
Another safe option is a unitary surface such as rubber tiles or poured-in-place rubber. Inappropriate surface materials are asphalt, concrete, dirt, grass and chemically treated wood mulch.
Supervision: There needs to be as much supervision of kids outside in the play yard as inside the classroom. Also, there should be a means of communication available (phone or walkie-talkie) in case of an emergency. Teachers need to explain the play yard rules and be attentive to children using the equipment in unanticipated, creative ways. "The adults at the preschool should be moving while they are supervising children on the equipment, not standing and talking together," says Thompson.
Landscaping: Planting flowers or a vegetable patch adds color and softness to the playground setting. But thought must be given to the plants selected. Are they sharp to the touch? Do they attract bees? Are they poisonous if ingested? Low-maintenance gardens work well in busy preschools.
Teachers and parents want kids to have fun in playgrounds. They want kids to try out new skills, be challenged and take healthy risks. It's the grown-ups' job to make sure there are age-appropriate risks set up for children and not injury-causing hazards.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.