The Perfect Age To Buy A Playset
Play is an essential part of childhood. From building strong, healthy bodies and reducing stress to helping children learn independence and social skills, we can't deny the importance of play. According to experts, all kids should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Why Is Play Important?
Unfortunately, children’s opportunities for free play have drastically diminished in the last few decades. Modern children are spending less time involved in active outdoor free-play. Instead, they spend more time indoors and in front of screens.
There are many reasons why children today aren’t playing outside as much as they used to — parents work long hours, children participate in more after-school childcare or activities, lack of safe nearby play areas and fear of traffic, and children might leave yards and properties without parental supervision. These reasons are just some of many.
Another reason children and families are spending less time outdoors is an abundance of time spent on technology. Children between the ages of 8-18 spend an estimated average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen. This lack of physical activity has led to an epidemic of childhood obesity and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.
Encourage Children to Get Outside and Play
Purchasing a fun and safe outdoor playset is a way parents can ensure their children will excitedly go out to play. Quality wooden playsets feature solid beam construction, loads of safety features and the ability to expand and adapt according to your family’s needs.
Having a sturdy and fun playset right in your backyard provides a safe place for your children to engage in active and imaginative play. They also have a way of bringing the whole family outdoors. These days, it's not only children who can benefit from unplugging but adults as well.
By choosing a playset with accessories and play features, such as swings, slides and climbing features that reflect your children’s current ages and developmental levels, but can expand later with different accessories, your playset will always be a fun and exciting place for your child to play.
Many parents wonder when the “perfect” age is for purchasing a playset for their children. While some parents may feel their children are too small and young for a playset, other parents may think their children are too big or too old to play on one. The good news is that playsets are beneficial to children of all ages and stages, even into the later childhood years and is a worthwhile investment no matter what stage of life you are in.
Playsets for Children Under Age 2
Children at this stage of development are just learning how to crawl, stand and walk. Engaging in active physical play helps them to develop balance, coordination and muscle control. Playing on an outdoor playset is an age-appropriate activity for this age level under competent supervision and with the proper play features.
Since children at this developmental level are learning to become mobile and balance, they should have access to play activities that allow them to crawl freely and cruise. Sturdy wooden playsets allow parents to assist their children in their climbing play safely. They also give parents the option of choosing essential features like swing beam and deck height.
Stairs and Ramps: If these are short and low to the ground and have proper safety railings, they can provide opportunities for toddlers to practice balancing, climbing and walking. With that said, toddlers should climb no higher than three feet.
- Bucket Swings: These swings are ideal for babies and young toddlers. They allow for little ones to swing, twist and turn just like the older kids but with a high backrest and enclosed front and sides. This higher profile ensures babies and toddlers are safely secured and not able to climb into or out of the swing without adult assistance.
- Tunnels: Toddlers are just beginning to become independent and may get uneasy when a parent is not in sight. Enclosed crawl tunnels with bubble panels or spy panels are the perfect addition to your backyard playset. They provide a fun opportunity for climbing and exploring, with both parent and child still able to keep each other in sight.
- Open Slides: With a shorter length and lower height, these slides provide a fun experience for babies and toddlers. The open concept ensures parents have complete physical and visual access to their children at all times, while the shorter length and height adds just enough adventure without being scary.
- Accessories: Babies and toddlers enjoy learning about the world through all their senses. They like to touch, taste and bang on toys and objects to see what will happen. Many fun playset accessories help your babies and toddlers explore the world around them. While now just a fun object to explore, ship’s wheels, telescopes and binoculars later become the props that foster dramatic play.
Babies and toddlers learn much about the outdoors and nature from their tactile sense and should be free to explore their surroundings. Many wooden playsets come with a convertible feature that can be turned from a simple low platform, ideal for walking and sitting, to a picnic table where your little one can sit and enjoy the fresh air while grabbing a bite to eat.
One of the most valuable convertible features of wooden playsets is the ability to use it as a sandbox. It provides babies and toddlers with the opportunity to explore nature while developing their fine motor skills safely. Sand, water, pails and shovels provide hours of fun right in your own backyard. The best part is the platform becomes a sandbox cover to keep your sand both clean and dry.
Essential playset features for children under age 2 include:
- Short, low stairs and ramps with appropriate safety handles
- Full bucket swings
- Enclosed crawl tunnels with bubble panels or spy panels
- Open slides with shorter length and lower height
- Fun accessories such as ship’s wheels, binoculars and telescopes
- Convertible platform/picnic table/sandbox feature
Playsets for Ages 2-5
Throughout these years, children rapidly develop their fine and gross motor skills. They enjoy being in constant motion and want to climb, run and jump. They still need adult supervision and some assistance with balance and climbing, although their fierce need for independence may cause them to be daring.
Children at this age level are often courageous without fear of getting hurt. For this reason, it's crucial children in this stage play on equipment no higher than six feet. A good rule of thumb is if you have to lift your child up and onto the playset, then it isn’t age-appropriate.
For all playsets, it’s essential they have a solid and level surface with proper cushioning material underneath. While dirt and grass don't qualify as cushioning material, shredded rubber, rubber mats, pea gravel, mulch and sand do, and they provide a softer landing should children experience a fall.
Children in this age range are just learning how to play with others and to take turns. Playsets naturally encourage children to practice these skills. Waiting to go down the slide or working together to spin the tire swing encourages children to interact and socialize.
Pretend play is a big part of this developmental stage, and children excitedly engage in using their imaginations. A playset provides the perfect setting for children to participate in dramatic play activities where they can let their imaginations run wild while being physically active. Accessories like periscopes and megaphones help children bring their fantasies to life.
- Short Ramps, Rock-Climbing and Ladders: Playsets featuring short ramps with ropes or rock-climbing-inspired grips are ideal for children in this age range as are shorter ladders with small, flat and wide stairs. Safety handles added to the tops of ladders and climbing features ensure added safety and security against falls.
- Tube and Spiral Slides: The addition of tube and spiral slides is appropriate for children at the upper end of this age level, as they are becoming more independent and adventurous. They can climb and slide independently and have more balance. Shorter slides on lower playset decks ensure slides remain within the recommended height for this age level.
- Belt Swings: Belt swings are an appropriate playset addition for children in the upper end of this age range. These flexible plastic swings conform to children of all shapes and sizes, which helps to keep them secure while they're learning to pump their legs and reach for the sky. Lower swing beams ensure young children are swinging at a safe height.
- Tire Swings: A fun addition to any playset, as they encourage silliness, spinning and socialization. This equipment can hold up to three children and promote interaction and teamwork. They can be adjusted to different heights to ensure younger children aren’t too high off the ground.
- Glider Swings: These are fun for young children who can safely balance and hold on, and their build is appropriate for up to two children. Featuring various openings for children of different sizes to place their hands and feet safely, these fun swings are low to the ground and secured by pinch-free safety chains.
Essential playset features for children ages 2-5 include:
- Short ramps with ropes or rock wall-climbing grips
- Ladders with small, flat, wide steps, safety handles
- Tube slides or spiral slides with shorter length
- Lower swing beams
- Belt swings, tire swings or glider swings
Playsets for Ages 6-9
Children in this age group have more strength and agility than ever before and rapidly gain the stamina and gross motor skills needed to climb, run, swing and jump higher and further. As a result, they want more adventurous play features that allow them to exert their energy and practice their newfound skills.
Children in this age range enjoy challenging themselves and others and often engage in races and contests to see who is the fastest or best. Though they still require adult supervision, they can play independently. They have a clear understanding of rules and are beginning to show interest in specific activities.
Socially, children in this age range enjoy playing with other children and value their peer relationships. They enjoy activities such as taking turns pushing each other on the swings, which develops social skills while also helping build muscles. They enjoy playing and making up games and would benefit from the addition of accessories such as tic tac toe and chalkboard panels.
Dramatic play and role-playing are still a big part of this stage. Children enjoy being leaders and acting out the concepts they see all around them. With their imagination, their playset can become anything from a fairytale castle to a pirate ship and everything in between. Fun features such as pirate’s boat swings allow both boys and girls to have fun and let their imaginations soar.
- Large Rock-Climbing Ramps: These provide a safe and challenging activity for children in this age range. Here, children can practice their climbing skills. Rock walls feature unique "rock-shaped" handles that are the perfect size for little hands and feet to grasp. The addition of a climbing rope provides an additional challenge.
- Taller Horizontal Ladders and Chain Ladders: Add a more challenging climbing experience for older children. Like rock-climbing ramps, rope ladders encourage children to develop their muscles and gross motor skills, and children will enjoy seeing who can get to the top first. Higher swing beams and decks allow the addition of the longer and taller playset features that older children enjoy.
- Advanced Slides: The addition of taller and longer extreme slides are great for children in this age range. Wave, spiral and super slides provide a more adventurous and thrilling experience and allow children to take risks while going higher and faster safely.
- Monkey Bars, Rings, and Poles: Children at this age level can safely climb and drop from slightly higher distances. Monkey bars and fireman’s poles provide a fun way for children to develop stamina and upper body strength. Trapeze bars can be raised and lowered according to the height and comfort level of the user and allow children to twist and swing. Rings, straps and ropes provide a fun and challenging obstacle course for older children wishing to push themselves to the limit.
- Disc or Buoy Ball Swings: Swinging is still a fun activity for children at this stage, and adding more challenging swings will help keep their interest. Buoy balls allow children to develop their upper and lower body muscles while hanging on and swinging to their heart’s content. Disc swings feature a round disc with a rope through the middle where children can sit or stand while swinging and spinning.
Essential playset features for children ages 6-9 include:
- Higher swing beams and decks
- Large rock-climbing ramps
- Cargo nets or ropes courses
- Extreme slides
- Taller horizontal ladders
- Trapeze bars, monkey bars, rings or poles
- Buoy balls or disc swings
Playsets for Older Children
For children around 10+ years of age, adequate physical activity and open space to run and play are still essential. While they can focus and attend for long periods of time, older children must be able to expend their excess energy, as well.
Play and exercise benefits older children in many ways. The many body changes that occur during this stage often usher in normal development changes too, such as weight fluctuation, anxiety and moodiness. Adequate physical activity helps them maintain a healthy weight and body image while improving their mood and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the presence of screens looms large with this age level, and the draw of technology often outweighs the need for physical activity.
Luckily, having a backyard playset is an option that still works well for older children. A high-quality wooden playset that has been adapted and expanded to meet the needs of children in this age group provides a great outdoor space where they can burn off some energy, gather with friends or just enjoy a little quiet time.
Peer relationships are essential for children in this age group and they care much about being accepted by and spending time with their friends. Backyard playsets provide a safe space for friends to engage in team sports, running and racing games and quiet conversations. They offer the opportunity to develop valuable friendship, social skills and independence.
- Sky Lofts and Bridges: While older children want independence and privacy, they still need adequate supervision. Older girls still enjoy engaging in dramatic play while older boys often like to compete with each other. This is the perfect time to introduce a covered sky loft or bridge, where children can have a fun space for some time alone or for hanging out with friends.
- Swings: Older children still enjoy spinning and swinging, so incorporating swings made to fit larger bodies ensures the swings will get frequent use. Daydreamer swings allow older children to comfortably sit or lie down in a variety of positions while spinning, swinging and relaxing. Tire swings are also fun for this purpose and are available in a variety of layouts to fit children of different ages and sizes.
- Advanced Strength Challenges: For older children and teens, personal fitness often becomes an area on which they begin to focus. Providing challenging climbing features such as monkey bars, trapeze bars, rope ladders and rock walls keeps older children fit and challenged.
As they reach complete physical maturity, older teenagers continue to need adequate physical activity that also incorporates bone and muscle-strengthening exercises. Establishing proper exercise habits from the very early stages of childhood helps children grow into healthy and strong adults. Limiting screen time, building dedicated family outdoor time and providing a safe and secure outdoor play space are positive ways to ensure children stay fit and happy.
Essential playset features for children ages 10+ include:
- Sky lofts
- Daydreamer and tire swings
- Bonker bags
- Challenging climbing features
Let Your Playset Grow With Your Family Over Time: Choose Superior Play Systems
Outdoor play helps children develop their social, emotional, cognitive and physical abilities. Buying a playset that can grow with the needs of your family and children is a good investment no matter what age they are. A high-quality wooden playset can be expanded and adapted safely without compromising the integrity of the structure.
Unfortunately, not every playset on the market can promise you this kind of longevity. To ensure you’re getting a playset that will be safe and stand the test of time, your playset should contain quality materials, top-notch safety features and superior craftsmanship.
At Superior Play Systems, we are the exclusive retailer of Playground One® playsets. These sturdy wooden playsets are constructed of 100% Pacific Cedar, making them naturally pest-free and low maintenance. Solid beam construction, high-quality components and outstanding safety features ensure your playset will stay safe and fun for many years to come.
Our playsets feature a large variety of layouts and play features that can be added to and adapted for all ages and ability levels. For toddlers and younger children, we offer ramps, slides and swing beams with lower heights. The addition of higher and longer slides, fun and unique swings and challenging climbing features continues the fun for older children. The addition of a sky loft makes a perfect hangout spot for your tweens and teens.
Modular wooden components allow the playset to be adapted for your children and family as they change and grow. Our fantastic safety features such as snag-free hardware, safe and sturdy non-slip grips, pinch-free swings and chains and double wall safety slides ensure children of all ages can play safely and securely.
When you’re ready to transform your backyard into a safe play area where your children can expend their energy and the whole family can spend more time outdoors together, contact Superior Play Systems. We offer over 25 years of experience, honest and knowledgeable customer service and the most extensive selection of wooden playsets on the market.
Our services include custom design services and professional installation, and our comprehensive warranty is the best in industry. Browse our catalog to see our selection of quality wooden playsets and find out why we are The Most Trusted Name In Play.