Many parents do not understand the importance of checking the playground equipment at the childcare facility they are leaving their child at during the day. Most accidents in a childcare setting usually happen during play time. Children learn while they are playing. There are many learning opportunities that take place on the playground. Fine and Gross Motor Skills are both developed on the playground. Social skills are developed as well. This is one of the main areas that children can learn to interact with each other. Children in daycare settings also tend to spend a lot of time outdoors when possible. As you check out the facility, there are some things that you might want to check out regarding the playground.
Does the Facility Ensure Safety?
As you interview the director of the facility, make sure to inquire about the safety methods put in place regarding the playground equipment. Ask how many children can be on the playground at the same time and how many teachers are supervising the children while they are on the playground. The playground should not be what is used for teachers to take their break times.
Often times, the playground requires more supervision than what is required in the classroom. At the very least, being on the playground is going to require the same amount of supervision because the playground is unstructured play. It is harder for one person to keep an eye on every child while on the playground.
Find out how often safety inspections are being conducted on the playground equipment. Is there a process that the teachers must go through to report broken equipment? Typically, there should be some type of official paperwork that must be filled out to report the damage. Ask if they have a safety checklist for playground equipment and whether the teachers have any training on playground safety.
Check it Yourself
Ask if you can also see the playground as you tour in the facility. If they have a checklist, ask to see the last few safety checks. Make note of when the checks were conducted. This will give you a vague idea of how often the childcare facility really checks its playground equipment. As you look at the playground equipment, keep your eyes open for any parts that may be missing or any equipment that may be broken. Look at the nuts and the bolts on the equipment and take note if any of them are protruded. Look for peeled paint, rust, or chipped places on the equipment. Keep an eye open for sharp edges on the equipment or any rough surfaces. Look to see if the handholds on the equipment are stable enough if your child is going to grab it and fall. Look for visible cracks in the equipment. See if the equipment that is not anchored to the ground (and even the equipment that is) is stable or not. Finally, look for any wear or deterioration with the equipment. Most facilities should be conducting these checks on at least a monthly basis.
You may also want to look at the recommended ages for the equipment that is being used. You want to know that your child will be safe all throughout the day. Playground equipment has recommended ages because they are designed for the safety and development of specific age groups. Find out what skills are being built on the playground. Find out whether the teachers are assisting in building these skills or if they just sit on the bench the entire time and watch. This may be fine every now and then. But, for smaller children, the teachers should be more hands on. You can find out this information by observing the interactions of the children and teachers while on the playground.