As responsible parents, we want to give our kids every chance to succeed in life that we can: nutritious meals, a good education, a sense of right and wrong. An integral, and sometimes overlooked, aspect of these opportunities is your kids’ activity level. Of course, there’s no one answer to increase your kids’ activity levels, but building a backyard playscape is a good start. Besides the inconvenience of consistently getting your kids to a public playground, chances are your kids will be a lot safer at home than a municipal park.
The Importance of Increasing Kid Activity Levels
Few people need to be told that child obesity is a growing problem. Where a generation ago barely 1 in 20 children could be classified as obese, today that number has risen to more than 1 in 6. The media has raised awareness of this ongoing problem, but it has shown no signs of correcting itself. Of course, these are statistics, and you can do what you can to make sure your child stays healthy. Keep in mind that besides the immediate health dangers (including heart disease, diabetes, orthopedic problems) obese children have a greater tendency to become obese adults. If obesity continues into adolescence, the chance of continued obesity can be as great as 80%.
Playscapes and Playgrounds
So, what is a playscape and how is it different from a playground. Admittedly, they are pretty similar, but the difference plays a key factor for homeowners. Playscapes are, essentially, integrated playground equipment. Public playgrounds tend to have ample space and no particular need to conserve space with integrated playground equipment. Most playgrounds will usually have at least one playscape with slides, tunnels, and monkey bars, but most homeowners want to pack as much punch as possible in less space and for less money. A single residential playscape is often the best way to combine the needs for space conservation and budgetary constraints, while still enabling your kids to have multiple options.
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Backyard playscapes can include any of the common playground equipment you see at your local park. Swings, slides, monkey bars, tunnels, and ladders are all possibilities. A single backyard playscape can also accommodate kids of different ages and sizes. There’s no reason you can’t install a standard swing and an infant swing along the same support beam. Moreover, a small slide and a large slide can extend off opposite sides of the playscape.
To keep your kids safe, don’t focus solely on the equipment design and installation. The ground surface underneath your playscape is just important, if not more so. Wood chips, sand, or rubber mulch are materials with great impact absorption that can literally save your kid’s life. The exact level of absorption should be matched to the utmost height your kid can reach on your playscape.
Build or Transform Your Tree House into a Playscape
It may not occur to you at first, but it may be a relatively simple project to turn your kid’s tree house into a decent playscape. For example, adding a simple slide to the tree house will enable your kids to run around more, instead of constantly hanging out within the tree house. Plus, exiting the tree house on a slide should be a lot safer for kids than climbing down a ladder. Be careful, though, to not harm the tree when adding the slide. If this is an issue, installing one or two support poles will probably alleviate the extra stress on the tree itself.