Orson Scott Card’s classic novel Ender’s Game centered around gifted children being trained for war through games.
Stakes were high, and most of the children were either sent home or sent to the hospital. While real-life play is not as dangerous, playgrounds function pretty much as the Battle School in the novel: they teach children to be aware of their bodies and to interact with their environment. Of course, this is not without inherent risks.
Gravity and the children’s still developing sense of balance often lead to scrapes, cuts, and the occasional broken bone.
Although locking your children up to keep them safe may seem like the logical thing to do, being at a playground can be a fun and educational experience even for children as young as age 2½ years.
Although there are no set standards for playground safety in the Philippines, the U.S.-based National Program for Playground Safety suggests that children between the age 2 and 5 years can already use and enjoy basic playground equipment as long as the equipment are age-appropriate and that proper safety measures are in place.
Swing-out Tots Swings, probably the most common feature in playgrounds, should ideally not have more than two swings per set because crowded sets can lead to collisions and entanglement. “I also check if there is cushioning material beneath, in case my daughter falls off,” shares Carmela Lapena whose daughter Maya is a regular at Makati playgrounds.
Loosely-filled sand is best, but even bare soil would be marginally better than gravel or concrete since these offer no cushioning at all.
Slide and slither Slides are another standard in playgrounds. While old-school slides were made of sheet metal that sometimes had exposed nails and rusty edges that tended to get too hot in the afternoon sun, heavy-duty plastic has become the material of choice for most children’s slides today. Hand and guard rails should also be present and be high enough to prevent a child from falling off the sides.
Marc Balanay, father of Xavi, always makes it a point to supervise his son on slides. “It’s very easy to slip or stumble because children are so excited to line up for their turn,” he says.
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