My favorite type of play equipment: Where the adult (such as myself) can climb and play alongside their child; Not just in a supervisory role but having fun themselves as well.
Many years ago I went to a park where there was a huge play structure; I think it looked like a very cool Castle. It was actually a playground that I had frequented as a child (the castle wasn’t there back then). The problem was that I had my little niece (around the age of 6 at the time) got right into it, through the crowds of children and once she was in I couldn’t see her any longer. The equipment was well enclosed without openings for children to see out or caregivers to see in. As a young 20 something with the responsibility of my little niece, I was pretty terrified. There were many slides and exits that she could come out of. Do I venture in (not an option since there were so many children scrambling through the walkways and platforms) or just circuit the exits and pray that I see her –soon? No need to worry, she did come sliding out of one of the slides but I didn’t leave her side one more time the entire day.
From that day on I really understood the importance of play equipment that is transparent (for the most part), accessible for adults and with enough space to accommodate the amount of children frequenting the park.
Also here are a few other little tips:
Look for equipment that gives children the opportunity that they normally wouldn’t get. A perfect example: stairs. Children climb stairs all the time so look for equipment with other types of climbing challenges.
Look for a variety of types of movement: spinning, swinging, bouncing, swaying, springing, rocking, climbing (upper and lower body; vertical and horizonal) etc… It’s important for children to get all types of movement for the development of balance, coordination, strength and brain development. Adults can take advantage of the equipment and get these benefits as well.
Go find a challenging playground today and have some fun! (ok, if you live in the Boston area, maybe not today as it’s pouring rain).