Encouraging Beneficial Play with Surfacing
Reducing risk while maintaining a fun play area often represents the main focus when discussing a playground’s surface. All of Goric’s Surfacing and Accessories products meet important ASTM standards for reducing the frequency and severity of fall-related incidents. Such risk reductions are supremely important, and they are also only the beginning of surfacing’s potential.
Your playground’s surface can encourage more inclusive play, by making it easier for those with limited mobility and their friends to fully enjoy and benefit from play activities. It can encourage self-directed or free play, which is often considered the best type of play for boosting self-confidence and creative problem solving. Surfacing can even embed games directly into the play area, extending a playground from its structures to its entire surroundings.
Understanding these three unique and powerful attributes to playground surfacing is important when developing any play area.
1. Mobility Benefits of Smart Surfacing Design
A quality play area must be open, attractive, and inviting for individuals of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities. This is not simply the right thing to do in support of communities, it is also the most beneficial for all involved. A playscape should create an environment where emerging physical abilities can be explored, creative solutions discovered, and where the value of everyone’s contribution can be fully realized.
Some types of play involve personal triumph, others require the ability to work together to achieve larger goals. Both of these types of play are aided by environmentally resilient, predictable, and reliable surfacing that allows everyone to keep their focus on having fun.
2. Promoting Free Play and Self-Directed Exploration
For many playgrounds, the function of the play equipment is obvious. You slide down a slide. You swing on a swing. The enduring popularity of such standard playground fixtures speaks to their inherent ability to produce a fun-filled and beneficial environment. It is just as important to compliment this type of playground with designs and equipment that are more structurally abstract and encouraging of free play.
As reported by The Atlantic, a recent study by psychologists at the University of Colorado found that children who regularly have unscheduled, unsupervised playtime possess, “highly developed self-directed executive function.” Meaning they are better able to create their own goals and practical methods for achieving those goals. Well-designed surfacing and surfacing accessories often spark the imagination in unexpected ways. By placing a variety balls, half-balls, palisades, and steppers of various colors and sizes throughout a play area; you offer those at play the ability to follow their instincts and discover previously unknown abilities. These surfacing items improve the value of the play area, without requiring elaborate structures.
3. Embedding Game Play into the Surface Area
No matter the type of playground, its ability to support beneficial play can be boosted with surfacing. Numbers, shapes, and colors can be used to identify and suggest specific activities. Common children’s games such as four-square and hopscotch can have their own designated spots. The repetition of numbers and letters, important to the learning and development of young children, can be seamlessly included in a play area.
Understanding the developmental goals of a playground will always create opportunities for well-designed surfacing to offer a meaningful contribution. In this way, a playground can extend well beyond its common structures to include the entire area. From footprints suggesting a pathway, to complex mazes, a playground’s surface acts as a partner with the surrounding structures, and increases the variety of play activities available.
Creating the Best Possible Play Area
Every aspect of any given space needs to be considered when designing a new playground, or when seeking ways to improve an existing playscape. Surfacing and surfacing accessories offer a straightforward and relatively cost-effective way to create a large impact on a playground’s ability to encourage beneficial play.
Well-designed surfacing can contribute to the physical development, emotional exploration, and cognitive abilities of those at play in remarkable ways. This gives new meaning to the old adage of always building from the ground up, and increases the fun for all involved.