School-aged children

Play for all ages

Physical excellence

The period between six and twelve years old is often thought of as the golden age of childhood. Provided they have developed normally so far, children now seem able to do and learn almost anything. Physically, children now have the same proportions as adults, and their proprioception and sense of balance grow better every day.

Habits involving regular physical exercise normally start between the ages of 6 and 12, which is also the age when physical literacy should be promoted. Physical education specialists often mention ABC, or agility, balance and coordination. They also agree that playfulness is fundamental at this stage if children are to be enthused about physical activity. When designed appropriately, playgrounds are perfect environments for helping children achieve the physical excellence they strive for at this stage.

School-aged children can master basic coordination skills, such as running, jumping, balancing, rolling, throwing, catching, climbing and crawling, and it's important to give these children a wide diversity of agility and coordination challenges.

The age of sympathy
The period from 6 to 12 years old is often referred to as the sympathetic age: children gradually gain understanding of others people's feelings, reactions and motives. Six-year-olds are able to speak fluently and expand their vocabulary, making them better able to play with more children. The main play driver gradually switches from role-play to "rules play", and all games with rules will appeal to these children as they begin to enjoy positive competition.

Creativity and rules
For school-aged children, creative play is closely linked to "rules play". These children enjoy creating rules and measurements to benchmark themselves and others. They love to play traditional games such as tag and hide-and-seek. But they also try to exceed their physical comfort zones to gain even more skills. Play areas and playground equipment for this age group should support the need to play traditional games and to experiment.

Active learning
School-aged children learn in school, but recent research shows that much of the learning these children acquire - including many "life skills" and a better understanding of nature - need to be learned actively, not taught. Outdoor play environments with measurable challenges, out-of-the-way corners where small groups can gather, and the potential for a variety of play activities can help children improve their concentration and readiness to learn.

Key words in development and play design for school-aged children:

  • Gross motor ABC: agility, balance and coordination
  • "Rule play" scenarios
  • Places to spend time with others

Examples of good play activities
Gross motor, agility, balance and coordination practice: climbing, crawling, bouncing, rocking, sliding, spinning, balancing, swinging - nets, steeper hills, swings, spring seesaws, spinning elements, slides.

Social play events: even though school age children can play in bigger groups, they also like to gather in smaller groups - especially girls.

Fine motor skills practice such as sand and water play is still appealing to the youngest members of this age group.

When landscaping consider using:
Hard surfaces for ball games, varied activities and different levels and layers of play. Shade (from trees that are safe for climbing) and areas where groups of two or three can socialise.