Supervising the Playground
Topic 3 Page 8
Supervision is basic to safety and the prevention of injury and maintaining quality child care.
Many times, children are sent to the playground without active supervision. Sometimes early childhood educators act as if the equipment will supervise the children for them. However, a playground without active supervision is an unsafe playground. Over half of all playground injuries are self-inflicted. This means that kids run into and trip over objects just by being kids.
Children like to test their skills and abilities. This is particularly noticeable around playground equipment. Even if the highest safety standards for playground layout, design and surfacing are met, serious injuries can happen if children are left unsupervised.
A lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries. Adults who are involved, aware, and appreciative of young children's behaviors are in the best position to safeguard their well-being.
Here are some suggestions for maintaining adequate supervision:
Early childhood educators should regularly count children (name to face on a scheduled basis, at every transition, and whenever leaving one area and arriving at another), going indoors or outdoors, to confirm the safe whereabouts of every child at all times. Additionally, they must be able to state how many children are in their care at all times.
Licensing requires that maximum group sizes (and staff to child ratios) are maintained at all times, including on the outdoor play area.
Be sure to know and maintain the staff to child ratios for YOUR state!
Example, in Washington State, in any one outdoor play area, there cannot be more than:
- 14 toddlers (1:7 staff to child ratio)..or
- 20 preschool children (1:10 staff to child ratio)..or
- 30 school-age children (1:15 staff to child ratio)
- Injury/Incident Report Form
- Supervision Is More Than Watching Children Play, Heather Olsen, Donna Thompson, and Susan Hudson
- Facts about Injuries to Children on Playgrounds, Safe Kids World Wide
- NPR: For Kids With Special Needs, More Places To Play