May 18, 2017

Multigenerational Playgrounds: 3 Ways to Make your Play Space Fun (and Beneficial) for All Ages

Play.
For Life.

Humans are designed to play throughout our lifetime, and communities are looking for ways to create opportunities for people of all ages to realize the benefits of play…together. Customers frequently ask us how to create a play area that appeals to all ages. Here are some tips on how to design a great multigenerational playground. 

Get Everyone Involved

A successful multigenerational playground considers the needs of everyone in your community. For example, shade structures and seating areas create comfortable areas for parents and grandparents to rest while children are playing. But don't stop there. Find ways to engage parents and grandparents in play. Consider adding game tables, sport courts, picnic areas and other amenities to the surrounding area. The idea is to find ways to get everyone involved in play. 

Studies have shown when parents and children interact with one another in play, there are mutual physical, social and emotional benefits that are enhanced by the shared experience – more so than when parents or children play alone.

Adults who regularly engage in play with children realize dramatic psychological and health benefits such as reduced stress, improved mood, greater cognitive skills and enhanced relationships.  Children who play with adults: 

  • Demonstrate greater creativity and higher levels of language and problem-solving skills
  • Engage in more sophisticated types of play
  • Realize optimal cognitive and social-emotional development

Add Unique Play Activities

Design the playground to include play equipment that encourages adults to engage in playful behavior with children. Products like Expression Swing® allow an adult to swing face-to-face and eye-to-eye with a child. Renowned play researcher, Dr. Stuart Brown, MD, tells us when a parent and child's eyes meet while playing in this way it creates opportunities for significant emotional bonding (also called attunement), and enhances the cognitive and decision-making centers of the brain in both the child and the adult. 

 

Challenge Course® by GameTime is a fun and social recreation option that combines a timed obstacle course and a mobile app to encourage friends and family members to compete against the clock or with one another. In cities across North America, children and adults are flocking to parks to challenge themselves and each other. In schools, PE teachers use the mobile app to help students track their progress over time, and to compare their school's progress with schools across the country.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Don’t try to find one playground, green space or trail that appeals to every age group. The key to a successful multigenerational play space is to combine age-appropriate play areas and products to provide a wide range of activities that appeal to everyone. For example, your playground area may include separate play systems for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12 to address the specific physical and developmental needs of these two age groups. Freestanding play activities like musical instruments can be installed within the play area to encourage people of all ages to make music together.  You may also include an adjacent fitness area for older teens (ages 13+) and adults, or a walking and jogging path around the perimeter of the recreation area.

By taking the time to plan a space that appeals to people of all ages, you can create a play and recreation area that attracts more visitors, encourages people to be more active and enhances the quality of life for everyone in your community. To learn more about building a multigenerational play area, contact a GameTime representative in your neighborhood.