Installing playground equipment, like from Playgrounds Etc, at your child care center is an excellent way to boost your enrollment and provide a richer experience for your students. Unfortunately, a playground accident can just as quickly hurt your enrollment numbers and negatively affect how your teachers view free play. It is important to find a balance between the safety guidelines and semi-supervised play so your participants get a play experience that develops their gross motor skills, social skills, and creativity while limiting the chance of incidence.
Know the Current Safety Standards
Your top concern as a child care provider should be the safety of the children in your care. To limit the amount of accidents on your play equipment and protect yourself from legal backlash if there is an incident, you should make sure you are up to date on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's latest playground updates as well as the standards outlined by the National Program for Playground Safety.
You should keep in mind that many of these safety standards are only recommendations, not requirements. This means that it is easy for you to install equipment that does not meet these standards. By keeping yourself up to date you can prevent yourself from making poor purchases and installing dangerous or inappropriate play equipment.
Keep Your Equipment in Good Condition
Once you are well versed in the latest standards, it is important to make sure your current equipment is safe. Besides doing quick checks of your play area every day, you should conduct a thorough inspection of your play equipment at least once a year. However, if any of your equipment breaks, it should be removed and repaired or replaced immediately.
Besides keeping your equipment in good condition, it is important to keep your playground supervisors well-trained. You should make sure that all supervisors have current first aid training, as well as a yearly in-house training that covers your center's playground policies.
Let Children Handle Playground Disputes As Much As Possible
While safety should be a major concern for you, it should not overshadow the reason you purchased playground equipment in the first place. Playground equipment is designed to give children a safe, contained place to practice free play. Free play not only helps children learn physical boundaries and increases their gross motor skills, but it also helps them develop their imagination and interpersonal skills.
Your playground supervisors should be trained to foster independence on the playground. This should include giving children the opportunity to solve their own disputes. Of course, if children come to you with a problem, you should guide them through the process of compromise and resolution, but for the most part you should allow children to figure out who they want to play with and how they want to play.
Give Positive Attention in the Classroom, Not on the Playground
Most child care providers are excellent at giving the individual attention to children that their parents are unable to give while they are working or otherwise engaged. However, while it is important to give positive attention to your students, you should consider keeping the praise inside the classroom.
On the playground, children should be encouraged to expand their imaginations by amusing themselves. This means that there should be no right or wrong way to use playground equipment. Furthermore, if you compliment one child on their ability to climb, other children may try to copy their behavior for the same positive attention, or engage in riskier behavior to get your attention.
Playground equipment is a great addition to any school, but just like any other educational tool, it needs to be used properly to be most effective. Whether you have had a playground for years, or are installing your first one, try to come up with some creative play regulations that will make your school get the most out of their equipment.