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5 Ways to Design a Safe School Playground


Elementary school playgrounds offer a unique opportunity for children to play, practice their skills and gain confidence. They also provide a much-needed break from the classroom. While there is no evidence on how much recess is best, it’s clear that getting kids outside can fight obesity, improve concentration in the classroom and encourage essential social skills.

While outdoor play is certainly necessary, it’s also important that your school playground is safe for all ages. This way, teachers can bring students out for short recess breaks without having to worry about unnecessary injuries.

Below are five ways to design an elementary school playground that is safe and enjoyable.

1. Plan an age-appropriate design.

Start by choosing age-appropriate playground equipment. Elementary schools serve a wide age range of students, and many have preschool programs as well. To accommodate these different age groups, you have two options.

First, you can install multiple play structures based on age or ability. This will also keep different age groups separate during recess. However, you’ll need a larger budget and lots of space to do this. Your second option is to choose equipment that offers a mix of age-appropriate activities.

2. Choose quality safety surfacing.

An important part of planning a safe playground is selecting the right surfacing material. Kids are going to fall and the surfacing they land on will protect them from injuries. Safety surfacing comes in a wide range of options like engineered wood fiber, bonded rubber and poured-in-place rubber. Talk to a commercial playground company to learn more about these options.

3. Consider the location of your playground.

The right spot can make a big difference when it comes to playground safety. Start by checking the route that students will take to get to the playground. Ideally, they should have a flat, clear path with no tripping hazards.

If there are nearby hazards surrounding the property, consider building a fence or installing large hedges. Also consider the sun patterns and where to place shade structures to keep kids cool. Kids don’t generally put sunscreen on before recess, so it’s helpful to have some sun protection.

4. Install playground signage.

Playground signs and labels serve an important purpose because they communicate with teachers, parents and students. If you plan on having separate play structures based on age, the signs will indicate this. They can also warn people of potential dangers. Playground signage also lets people know of the park hours, the rules you expect everyone to follow and the contact information of the playground owner.

5. Partner with a reputable commercial playground company.

Lastly, be sure to work with a trusted playground company that will provide you with the great service you deserve. When selecting playground equipment for your elementary school or school district, you will want to work with a reliable company that has years of experience, high quality products and some of the best warranties in the industry.

Designing a safe elementary school playground isn’t hard when you work with a company like Cunningham Recreation. We can help you create a safe, sturdy, age-appropriate playground for your school. Contact our team today to learn more about furnishing your school with a brand new playground.