Unfortunately, children’s play is less about independent, playful exploration of natural environments than it used to be. An often hysterical approach to risk management and health and safety has meant that many are hesitant to pursue a playground design that actually helps a child’s active and creative development. Some schools around Watford approach the process of developing natural playgrounds from a similar angle to: “How can we altogether remove the chances that a child had an accident on a piece of our school playground equipment?” But this way lies madness! Operating with this philosophy, there’d be no climbing frames, no swings, no adventure trails, no anything.
In fact, research shows that “overly safe” playground design actually increases the chances children will suffer an accident. This is because a lack of interesting school playground equipment leads bored minds to create risk in ways unforeseen by those designing and building natural playgrounds. At DNA Play, we’re always keen to tell our Watford clients that they can have exciting, enjoyable school playground equipment that encourages children to weigh up risk and learn how to be active in a safe way. This helps them develop and make them more prepared for the “real world”. But this isn’t the only reason to invest in our wonderful natural playgrounds. Below we’ve listed a few more of the benefits that Watford schools can get out of investing in engaging, exciting playground design, and avoiding synthetic, risk-free playscapes.
Physical Activity & Development
One of the main goals of professional playground design is to create a space in which children can run, jump and generally stretch their legs. Playtime is an integral part of physical development, allowing them an active lifestyle and often encouraging the pursuit of physical/sporty hobbies. Our natural playgrounds in Watford and the wider UK, with all their different levels, contours, climbing frames and bespoke school playground equipment, are much for more suited to this purpose than utilitarian concrete playgrounds that can feel inhibitive or linear.
Teachers have long known that the outdoors can be a great environment to learn in. Whether it’s reading a book as a group on a warm summer’s afternoon, or exploring as part of a biology class (wildlife/horticultural survey), natural playground excel. Watford schools that employ green, earthy playground design featuring timber seating or staging, find their environment much more suited to outdoor learning than a tarmac playground with a few pieces of school playground equipment, like climbing frames.
While still far off the world of work and “adult responsibilities” that often drive us to fleeing Watford for a weekend abroad in the sun, children experience unique stresses of their own. Natural environments are a great way for them to get away from busy classrooms and spend some time in the open air. We’ll often integrate quiet areas to unwind and hit the mental refresh button within our wider playground design, finding them an essential aspect of the playground as important as any piece of school playground equipment.
Imagination & Creativity
Natural playgrounds are canvases for imagination and creativity. While traditional playgrounds around Watford may feel a little restricted in the playground design department, with just a few bits of school playground equipment to play on, in ours the possibilities are endless. We don’t just pave over a space and chuck in climbing frames, we incorporate musical features, interactive walls, chalk boards, staging areas, seating and learning areas – all the important aspects of playgrounds that allow children to develop their sense of creativity. We want to encourage, not stand in the way, of the next great actor, painter or musician, after all.
DNA Play prizes environmentally responsibility, which is more important in this day and age than ever before, with global warming being such a huge and unavoidable threat. That’s why we recycle materials to create our timber school playground equipment, and ensure that as many elements as possible within your playground design are recyclable. By showing Watford school children that mankind and nature can work together so harmoniously, we hope to instil in them a little of our conservational “green mindedness”, while showing that appreciating and looking after the environment can be fun!