What age was your child when they started school, and how did you decide where to take them? For many parents it’s a matter of proximity. After all, many municipalities have rules regarding public schools. According to these regulations, your child has to physically reside within a specific radius to be an eligible student. If at all you had the freedom to make a non-geographical choice, what was your criteria?
If your child is on the younger side, and if you’re a parent that prizes physical activity, you must have given at least a little thought to the play area. And after taking a tour and seeing the elaborate recess display that many schools have, you may feel a little intimidated about installing a playset for your kids at home. After all, their expectations are pretty high. Fortunately, if your children are more down-to-earth, you have a little more room to wiggle.
The primary decider for outdoor play modules at home is the available space. Then you can think about how much you can comfortably spend, and what specific activities your kids might enjoy. Age is an important factor too, because if you set the bar too low, the children will soon get bored and if you make the playset too advanced for their current activity levels, they’ll get frustrated and give up. Both responses leave the playset idle and unused.
Age trumps size
For children on the younger side, like toddlers and pre-schoolers, your back yard playset doesn’t have to be too elaborate. Their games are largely exploratory. They’re venturing out into the world, testing their limits, naming things, playing with tastes and textures. A good choice is a sensory flower playset. It comes in a group of three, and each ‘flower’ is a brightly coloured disk mounted on a curved stem. The flower has patterns carved on it.
As your kids play, they’re pulled in by the rainbow shades and will enjoy the feel of curving poles and abstract shapes on the drum surface. They can also run around between the stems, and if they’re agile enough, they can try climbing those smooth poles. The flower playset is about 2m by 4m, and its fall area is 7.2m2, so you don’t need a large yard to install it.
For an even smaller space, install a pair of Voice Tubes that can be fitted in 5.6m2. These tubes have hollow horns at the end that resemble megaphones. If a child yells, sings, or hollers into one tube, they’ll hear their voice come out the other one. Just like the playset flowers, they come in loud, bright colours that invite exploration and don’t need much room. Both these playsets invite kids to practice using four of their five senses.
Work with what area
Answering the question of how much space you actually need for your playset isn’t a simple one. If you make your purchase from a reliable supplier, you can find a modular set to fit anything from two square metres to twenty square metres, either as an individual playset or as an elaborate set-up with multiple pieces. Talk to your playset salesperson, and if possible, invite them to your home so they can get a clearer idea.
You might worry they’re trying to sell you something that guarantees them a profit, or that they’re pushing a flagship worth a higher price and a targeted agenda. In that case, organise for multiple visits. Have a staffer come to your house and show you how to measure you yard, then follow them back to their showroom and see what’s available for yourself. It might be difficult to picture how their playsets will fit your yard, but you’ll have a clearer idea.
Many modular playsets can be combined to create a more intricate experience. For example, an individual car rocker can be combined with buildings, traffic signs, and even a railway line to build a little play town, if you have enough space. You can start slow, installing a single item, then expand it to fit a wider narrative. Don’t take too long between additions though, or your kids may be too big to play.