Playground Q & A
Let’s continue by addressing some common questions about playgrounds at licensed child care facilities.
Topic 3 Page 3
The older the child, the more outdoor time is required. Infants may need only a few brief forays out into the sunshine. Outdoor play for infants includes riding in a carriage or stroller; however, infants should also be offered opportunities for gross motor play outdoors. Toddlers and young preschoolers should spend at least 15 minutes playing outside in the morning and afternoon. School-age children need longer periods of outdoor playtime, especially after a full day of school.
The outdoor play area should contain a minimum of 75 usable square feet per child using the play area at any one time. If the center uses a rotational schedule of outdoor play periods so that only a portion of the child population uses the play area at one time, you may reduce the size of the children’s play area correspondingly.
Cold, mud, and puddles are not excuses to keep children indoors. The National Weather Service identifies weather that poses a significant health risk as wind chill at or below 15°F and heat index at or above 90°F. You may be able to get the children outside briefly, when there is a break in the weather. Be sure to keep your schedule flexible.
Playground injuries are the leading cause of injury to children in childcare and to children ages 5 to 14 in schools. Because of this, educators need to be prepared to handle common emergencies and injuries that will occur on the playground. You will need to have access to a first aid kit while outside and will want to check that kit frequently. Follow protocol for administering first aid just as you would indoors. For more information on that, you can refer to your director or licensor.
Let your parents know that it is important to send their children to the center with suitable outdoor gear. Make this known on your monthly newsletter and/or your parent board as the weather starts to turn. Always have stock of extra clean clothes in your classroom in case a child does come dressed inappropriately to your classroom (i.e. jackets, gloves, hats, etc.). You will need to launder after each use.
There are no specific requirements for what play structures you should have on your playground. However, you should provide a variety of age-appropriate play equipment for climbing, pulling, pushing, riding and balancing activities.
You should fence the outdoor play area to:
- "Be Careful! I Might Kick You!", Teacher Tom, March 23, 2017
- 30 Classic Games for Outdoor Play, Jenny Williams
- Games to engage kids in safe and healthy play
- 8 Active Games for Kids, Care.com
- Making Indoor Recess Work, PLAYWORKS for every kid
- Friendship Park: A Playground For Children With Disabilities
- Universal Design in the Playground of Inclusion