Todays swing sets seem to emphasize size and features, supporting the American consumer's assumption that more and bigger equals better. People are beginning to realize smaller homes that are more functional can lead to a better lifestyle, one where you spend time enjoying life than taking care of all your possessions.
If we step back and recognize that children learn best through free play and discovery, it's easy to see that swing set size and features aren't terribly important to your children. According to the article, Children's Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to nature, “…children's play typically is pleasurable, self-motivated, imaginative, non-goal directed, spontaneous, active, and free of adult-imposed rules. Quality play involves the whole child: gross motor, fine motor, senses, emotion, intellect, individual growth and social interaction.” As a mother and teacher, let me offer you ideas to consider when picking a swing set for your children.
Who Are You Buying the Swing Set For?
As you consider a swing set, include your children in planning their own space. You'll be surprised at how simple their requirements might be (maybe not the water), focusing on things that are natural from water to vegetation, animals, sand, nooks and crannies that offer privacy and structures that can be changed to suit their imagination. You likely will find they don't need a big swing set and maybe they'd prefer a tree house.
If you're looking for help planning your outdoor children's space and activities, here are some great resources:
- Children's Play Area's by Sunset Books, offers ideas on laying the children's area out, landscaping, fencing, play structures, fitness ideas, tree forts and so much more.
- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder explains the relationship between children and nature, and how nature nurtures creativity.
- Beautiful report, Designing for the Future: Promoting Ecoliteracy in Children's Outdoor Play Environments, offers a wealth of information about how children learn and how you can enhance their love of nature.
Try to remember your special places when you were a child. Some of them are below, but many of them are no longer available as our communities have changed. The empty lots we played in have been developed, the park paths are no longer safe for our children to wander alone. With some planning, you can create some of your favorite places in your own back yard.
For related information, you can also read:
- Backyard Fun is More Than a Swing Set >> this article
- Playground safety tips from the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS)
- Swingsets.Net, a buyers guide (links to manufacturers) and information portal
- Swing Sets: Research Before You Buy
- Tips for Installing a Swing Set