A well-designed playground helps children grow

It is a wonderful initiative to involve the community in planning, assembling and installing a playground (A playground designed by residents; Jan 8).

I wish pre-school teachers and children were given the chance to participate in designing the playground too. I also hope that the playground and equipment were thoroughly inspected by a qualified person to ensure safety before letting children play there.

Were the members of the community involved in designing the playground given sufficient information on how the design should cater to children's age-related motor, social and intellectual abilities?

It is important to be aware of such age-related differences and challenges to ensure children have fun and, yet, are adequately challenged in a safe way.

A well-designed playground should allow children to gradually test their perceptual-motor skills in a range of progressive challenges.

Young children should be able to observe the playground and decide whether they want to undertake the different levels of challenges.

Having playground equipment and layouts that encourage children to cooperate with other children is also important.

My doctorate in education requires me to spend much time observing and studying child behaviour and I have seen children hoarding equipment instead of exercising empathy for other children's need for play.

Regrettably, their parents were too occupied with their smart gadgets, thus, missing out on those valuable moments to teach their children the values of sharing, cooperation, caring and helping others, and to enhance the children's communication, social and collaborative skills.

Nevertheless, a playground with a mix of loose parts for children to mix, match and construct, and one that encourages problem-solving, cooperation, creativity and appropriate risk-taking is much needed in Singapore.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2018, with the headline 'A well-designed playground helps children grow'. Print Edition | Subscribe