It was one of the best things about childhood…swinging as high as you could then jumping out in mid-air. Remember that? Or racing to the the top of the geodesic dome to play “king of the hill”?
Playtime is a vital part of a child’s growth not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and cognitively as well.
And this time of year the ads can be seen all over the TV and internet…tall playsets, complete with a fort, slide, swing sets and even monkey bars…the perfect solution to getting your kids to lay down their devices and get outside into the fresh air.
While all of these play structures look awesome, they do require room not only for the structure itself, but also room for kids to safely use it.
Thankfully, manufacturers have caught wind of the fact that not everyone has a quarter acre back yard to put up their play sets, so they’re creating more compact playground structures for people with small yards.
Following are some quick tips to help you choose a play structure with a smaller footprint that’s safe for your kids too.:
Use the space you do have efficiently
Think vertically when choosing a play structure for your small yard. Many playsets that are good for a smaller yard will have space saving features such as a twisty slide and a base tower with a playhouse up top and a sandbox underneath.
One of the best features of some play structures is the ability to add accessories such as a cargo climber which takes up minimal space and can replace horizontal monkey bars. Other customizations which take up little room include tic-tac-toe boards, megaphones, telescopes and even rock walls.
Make changes as your children grow
Depending upon your children’s ages, you can slowly add more complicated components as your children grow older rather than trying to fit everything onto one playset structure at once.
Start with the basics; swing, slide and easy to reach access points, then slowly build from there, removing parts that your children have outgrown, replacing them with more challenging accessories.
Remember the space needed to use it
Manufacturers will include the total recommended space (a/k/a The Recommended Safety Zone) in their playset descriptions.
Use it. These recommendations take into account a child being able to swing freely back and forth as well as room to walk past the slide or swings without getting bumped into by their siblings as they use them.
Recommendations to ensure safety
- ⬥At least a 6 foot perimeter around the play structure
- ⬥The removal of low hanging branches
- ⬥Placing the structure far away from electrical wires
- ⬥Rounded or capped edges to avoid scrapes and scratches
- ⬥Non slip decks and slide platforms with sides to prevent a small child from falling off
- ⬥Hand grips over swing chains to prevent pinched fingers
- ⬥No wood treatments or lead paint
Consider its location
Finally, as falls are the cause of most injuries on a play structure, it’s recommended to place the structure on a protective surface such as sand or grass.