Playground Distinctions: Courts, Fields & More

kids play area
Are you planning to create a playground? That’s great! Playgrounds are wonderful places where many different people from around the community can spend time playing outside, getting to know one another, and generally having a nice time. Of course, just saying that you are going to build a ‘playground’ is a little too general. What is it that you want to create? There are many different kinds of play spaces, each with their own purposes.

As the basic level, most people would think of a playground as an area intended for small children to crawl, climb, slide, swing, and more. These are classic playgrounds, and you can find at least one on the property of nearly every school across the country. With that said, children quickly outgrow such play areas, and they wind up needing bigger spaces with bigger challenges to remain engaged and entertained. Often, that means graduating to play fields and courts, where sports such as basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and more are contested.

Finding Opportunities for Individual Play

There is nothing wrong with play fields and courts. These spaces are used by both children and adults alike, and they offer important opportunities for exercise, teamwork, competition, and more. However, fields and courts don’t provide much in the way of a chance for individual play and skill development. This is something that is lost when moving from playgrounds to bigger open spaces. As you design a playground, it is worthwhile to keep in mind the needs of older children who would still like to play on their own. If there is equipment or other activities that can be enjoyed alone, the space will be more useful to a wider range of users.

Equality is Critical

Another one of the benefits of a play area is the accessibility for those with some form of physical or mental handicap. Many cities and counties require playgrounds to be accessible for individuals in wheelchairs, for instance, which is a great thing. All children should be able to play, regardless of their physical capabilities.

But what about when those children get older? Sending them out onto a big open football or soccer field likely is not going to result in a satisfying play experience. Instead, they should be offered opportunities which will allow them to keep developing and having fun in a safe, controlled environment. A handicapped child may not be able to compete in the traditional sense, but that doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t want to have fun playing outside as the years go by. Keeping this sometimes-forgotten demographic in mind should be a top priority.

Building a playground, and the surrounding play spaces, takes plenty of forethought and consideration. You don’t want to neglect any group of people, and that is particularly true when talking about children. Think carefully about the various needs of the individuals who will be sharing the space and then select pieces of equipment which can engage them equally.