Home' Belonging Early Years Journal : Volume 4 No 3 Contents 72 • BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 4 NUMBER 3 • 2015
play areas + sustainable practice
play will assist children in becoming competent,
capable and adept young people who feel con dent
to navigate their way in the world.
Educators are in a great position to provide
and encourage challenging play for the children
who attend their service. Each age group requires
challenges of varying degrees of dif culty dependent
on a range of factors, such as physical ability,
cognitive development, emotional resilience and
Additional bene ts, rewards or outcomes of an
activity may include:
• development of self‐con dence and wellbeing
• engagement with the natural environment
• learning through experience
• mixing with different age groups.
Children both need and want to take risks in
order to explore their limits, and venture into new
experiences. Any injury is distressing for children
and those who care for them, but the experience
of minor injuries is a universal part of childhood. A
minor accident can provide a learning opportunity --
something that can be discussed and analysed.
Educators can cater for infants by providing items
such as crawl tunnels, jouncing boards, low-level
balance beams, rockers and spinners (all at ground
level).These allow children to test their strength;
strengthen core muscles; learn about balance and
equilibrium; and place pressure on their large joints.
Challenging play allows infants to test their cognitive
skills by engaging in new activities.
As toddlers become increasingly independent,
educators can create opportunities for challenging
play in a wide variety of ways. Jouncing boards can
be raised up to 30 centimetres from the ground;
balance beams lifted; spinning saucers added; and
crawl tunnels angled slightly.This puts the focus on
developing major muscle groups to ne-tune gross
motor skills. With the support of educators managing
the environment and guiding behaviour, these activities
allow children to become increasingly competent and
capable while realising their limitations.
Provide challenging play opportunities for
preschoolers by increasing their physical challenges,
such as climbing, balancing at height, sliding,
swinging, running, jumping and spinning. Activities
can be catered for through the use of both xed
and moveable play equipment items. Children will
gain a sense of responsibility, and by establishing
ground rules and routines, educators can build
lifelong safety habits.
I can do this!
Challenging play does not necessarily require the
newest or fanciest equipment.The inclusion of rocks,
boulders and logs for children to scramble across,
jump over or balance on; a tree for climbing; and/or
the addition of tyres, crates and other loose parts with
which children can build their own climbing structure
can create challenge and interest in the playground.
Managing risk and challenge
Challenge in the playground is easily managed. A
risk-bene t analysis is recommended to optimise play
value and the provision of challenge. Effective risk
assessment will involve:
• distinguishing between acceptable and
unacceptable risks, including:
» the likelihood of coming to harm
» the severity of that harm
» the bene ts, rewards or outcomes of the
• observing the children and identifying those who
need greater challenge or speci c support
• establishing rules
• modelling acceptable behaviour
• actively encouraging children to assess risks and
• establishing a systematic maintenance program.
Kidsafe promotes children experiencing and
learning through safe, creative play.The expert team
at Kidsafe offers design and inspection services of
playgrounds in order to achieve a balance between
safety and challenge.
Further contact and information
Contact the Playground Advisory Unit in your state:
Kidsafe NSW | P: 02 9845 0890
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.kidsafensw.org
Kidsafe SA | P: 08 8161 6318
E: email@example.com | W: www.kidsafesa.com.au
Kidsafe WA | P: 08 9340 8041
Kidsafe QLD | P: 07 3854 1829
E: firstname.lastname@example.org | W: www.kidsafeqld.com.au
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