What is a playscape?
A playscape is a natural landscape that supports children’s self-directed play. It can be specifically designed or not. In the case of the small backyards usual in the urban Bay Area I like to take an integrative approach to getting kids to play, and stay outside. Aspects that draw and invite kids to enjoy the outdoors can be incorporated into every part of a garden design. Getting kids involved in the design process is another great way to let them feel power and ownership of their environment.
Why is a designed playscape good for kids? Can’t I just buy a swingset and be done with it?
Your backyard should be a safe space for your child to play, explore and connect with nature. A climbing structure can be a great addition to a backyard but including a more integrative approach will engage a child outside longer and is easy to grow and change as your child does. By personalizing their outdoor environment you can engage all their senses and invite participation in their world.
What do I mean by integrative approach? I mean that the elements you choose for your environment should make sense for it and feel natural. A large swing set in the middle of a lawn seems standard fare, but does it always make sense? It might, but a single basket swing under tree may feel more natural and, in consequence, get more use. When our environment makes sense, feels natural and works with our use patterns we are more likely to use and enjoy it.
The outdoor play and learning movement is gaining momentum as research shows that spending time outdoors fosters better health; emotionally and physically. When children are given unscripted outdoor time and open ended play opportunities it allows them to develop imagination, problem solving skills and other crucial attributes to happiness and success.
What if I am a renter and don’t want to pay for fancy hardscape or plants that I will have to leave behind? Or what if I only have a balcony?
No problem, whatsoever. The beauty of a well thought out playscape is that it is not one big clunky set of equipment bought at Target, instead it is a variety of elements that can be tailored to your child’s personality and needs. You will be amazed at the great experiences we can design for your child!
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