As we may all know, social exclusion can be extremely harmful to those it affects. If children don’t feel included at playtime and in social settings, this can lead to lack of self-confidence, social skills becoming stunted, and can negatively affect their mental health. The good news is that children can be taught how to include their peers in playtime, and this can have positive impacts on self-image and mental health.
In fact, at a deeper level, teaching social inclusion from a young age can enforce the idea of all races, genders, abilities and so on existing together peacefully. If children are taught early on that they should get along with everyone, regardless of any differences, they are more likely to carry accepting and tolerant attitudes as they grow older.
PlaySmart’s latest article covers the ways to tackle social inclusion on the playground and why this is such an important step in childhood development.
Social inclusion, in this context, refers to children being actively involved with and included in communal activities. Not only is this a great way to make friends, it also opens the door to develop those vital communication skills that children need for healthy development. You may not realise, but the quality and contents of your playground can actually contribute to social inclusion. PlaySmart has put together some ideas on how you can optimise your playground to promote inclusion.
Structured And Supervised Play
Children may not always take a hint unprompted, which is why it is important for playground supervisors, teachers and responsible adults alike to take authority for ensuring every child is equally included in play. Why not introduce team games, and put the children into teams? If left to pick teams themselves, some children might not be picked, which can lead to them feeling isolated and upset. Adults can prevent this happening by implementing structured play and picking the teams themselves, which ensures that every child is included.
Encouraging Collaborative Play
A good way of encouraging children to play in groups is introducing games that rely on teamwork or communication. There is a wide scope of games to choose from, but this will set the foundations for children learning to play in groups and form friendships with their peers. PlaySmart recommends that you introduce more team games into playtime – whether this is sports, tag, races or so on – so that children can talk to each other, develop their communication skills, and learn how to include others in play.
Optimising your Playground
The setting that children play in can make a difference, too. Have you ever considered the impact that your playground’s surfacing can have on children and their play? PlaySmart understands the value of a great playground, and knows that your surfacing can make a big difference when it comes to encouraging play.
Colours and Shapes
Visual design can carry a large appeal when done correctly. Many studies have proven that children are attracted to bright colours and interesting patterns, as it can spark their imagination. If you pick exciting designs for your playground, incorporate themes, or include patterns that can be used in imaginative play, this is likely to encourage children’s creativity and motivate them to play.
As your resident surfacing experts, PlaySmart knows how to help you get the most out of your playground. Choosing the right playground surfacing can encourage children to get active and play with their peers. Some examples of this include:
Artificial Grass. The cushioned, textured feel of artificial grass, along with its rapid drainage qualities, make for the perfect play surface for children. Popularly used for track sports and football, artificial grass can be used for a number of recreational activities, which can be used to your advantage! By facilitating team sports like football and running, you give children the opportunity to form partnerships and develop team spirit.
Wet Pour. Available in a wide range of colours, thicknesses and designs, wet pour rubber is an easily customisable surfacing that can feature countless different colour and design combinations. As mentioned beforehand, creativity is one of the biggest influences on imagination, and there’s no better surface than wet pour! Inspired by the vivid and abstract designs available with wet pour, children will look to their peers to create fun and imaginative games.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, we’re glad we could help point out ways of encouraging social inclusion through play. It’s very important that children don’t get left out, so everyone can grow, play and learn equally! If you’ve got any questions for us, as always, just use the contact form below.