Free play is an important part of an Australian childhood. Everyone has a memory of scaling a climber, jumping endlessly on a trampoline and relishing the thrill of gliding down a slide. At school, the public park or the community playground, you wouldn’t be the person you are today without partaking in those child activities.
But, why is free play an important lifelong experience, anyway? It’s because of the risks involved—reasonable risks for that matter. Children’s natural curiosity about the world around can’t be met with no challenges, but such tests shape every child’s wellbeing in different ways.
Only by taking risks one can develop the essential skills to protect oneself against danger. Kids hone the sense of self-preservation in a variety of means: learning from others through watching and discovering things on their own just to name a few. Sometimes they need to pick up lessons the hard way, but they become stronger and wiser every time they get up.
Testing Their Limits
Every person wants to know how far they can go—especially young people. Despite their limitations, children always dare to find out how high they can climb, how fast they can run and how many obstacles they can hurdle. They are constantly fuelled by an insatiable thirst for knowing.
Of course, as an adult, your job is to create an environment that promotes risk-taking while keeping the level of danger to a minimum. From safety surfacing to reliable structures, the playground equipment must be designed for a particular age group.
Learning from Mistakes
There are things children won’t realise without misjudgment. Kids are usually strong-willed because if they don’t understand what’s wrong, they find them out themselves and get hurt. Under the guidance of adults, pain can be a powerful teacher.
Children should grow up in the sandbox, not in front of electronic gadgets. With thoughtful playground design, free play will mould Australian children into physically and mentally tough adults.