Safety concerns are often one of the things that deters people from creating natural play spaces and using organic play equipment, as it can be quite scary when you cannot predict how children will engage. However, natural play can be one of the safest and most rewarding play experiences for children.
It is so important that children can engage in self-directed play, so they can develop their own ideas and discover their own passions.
Though it can be tempting to fill playspaces with the structured, single-use, traditional play equipment, children can quickly become bored with these, which can often lead them to take unsafe risks. When plastic play equipment is used incorrectly it can be dangerous, and even cause breakage. The last thing a playground needs is sharp splintered plastic!
More and more experts are turning towards non-traditional, unstructured play equipment that allows children to explore, even within restrictive school parameters; presenting different implications for safety and risk-management.
Supervising and minimising risky play on traditional equipment involves ensuring that students/children won't/can't misuse the equipment. For nature-based play, it involves making sure they are within a safe environment to use the equipment in any way they can think of. They need to be free to assess their own risks and learn and grow from them, without the risks being too great.
The Australian Standards for playgrounds (AS4685) was updated in 2014 to be more supportive of exploratory play, while providing clear safety guidelines to be followed. Kidsafe have some great tips on their website for making sure nature-based play provides opportunities for play within safe constraints.
If you are worried about safety in your nature playground, give Timber Creations a call to discuss how we make sure each custom product is carefully made to fit the safety standards.
For the best in nature-based play have your space designed by award-winning playspace architect and safety standards board member Fiona Robbé.