Recent research from the same German behavioral scientists who brought us Männergarten suggests that children are born with an innate fascination for sharp objects, self-destruct buttons, and hazardous nooks and crannies.
OK, it’s a joke!
They probably don’t feel the need to allocate research funding to something that everyone knows is true
More seriously though: what can you do about your child’s safety?
Well, it’s all about creating a safe environment and removing potential dangers in advance. If you leave any potential danger, a child will be inextricably drawn to them. After all, “The cure for boredom is curiosity” (~ Dorothy Parker.)
Child care and preschool playgrounds (or any playgrounds for that matter) present a particular challenge.
You can’t just bulldoze broken preschool playground equipment, jackhammer hard surfaces, or dynamite tree stumps (as much as children would enjoy it if you did!) It also takes a trained eye really to pick out the key details, identify dangers, and tell if a daycare playground is up to code.
That being said, here are some practical pointers for everyone, though, when it comes to child care and preschool playground safety:
1) Find out about your local playground safety codes.
The CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) has developed a set of guidelines, which are the “gold standard” when it comes to playgrounds. Today, 16 states have incorporated parts (or all) of the playground safety guidelines from the CPSC into local law.
The states include Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia or Wyoming.
If you’re in one of these states, you’re lucky! You can be more confident that whoever built your child’s preschool playground built it right because, well, it’s the law. The CPSC is a Federal agency, though, and state lawmakers are not obliged to do anything with the recommendations. They are obliged, however, to listen to their constituents.
If your state is not on the list above, speak up about it to lawmakers. We can’t think of a good reason why these guidelines should not be followed nationally (as a minimum standard, at least).
2) Put out “feelers” when checking out a daycare or preschool.
When evaluating a home daycare, child care center or preschool, ask questions about the playground. When was it built? Who built it? Who maintains it?
You can get a good feel for how seriously the child care provider takes the issue.
If you are feeling particularly crafty that day, you can slip the abbreviation “CPSC” into the conversation and see if the preschool administration even knows what it is.
3) Check out the preschool playground for yourself.
The CPSC has a quick, common-sense playground safety checklist of things to keep an eye out for. These apply to all playgrounds, including daycare and preschool playgrounds.
Some are obvious like checking for sharp points or edges, making sure that platforms and ramps have guardrails, and making sure that surfaces around the preschool playground equipment have soft or rubber-like materials (like wood chips, mulch, sand, etc.)
One point that was not immediately obvious though (to us, anyway) is that you want double-or-nothing gaps in the preschool playground equipment (between openings or ladder rungs for example). This is done so that kids don’t get trapped somehow: the openings should be either too small for one body part or big enough for them all.
Regardless of your State though, and whether there are strict playground safety regulations or none, it’s your job as a parent to find a safe environment for your child. When looking for a daycare or preschool, safety should be at the top of your list, and that includes carefully examining the daycare or preschool playground.
Ask the director not only about the playground equipment safety, but also about how children are supervised by child care providers and preschool teachers. Remember, there is no replacement for quality adult supervision!
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Created by parents for parents. www.CareLuLu.com