By Esther Sithole

What is the solution to lack of outdoor play equipment in ECD Centres?

As part of the ECD intervention of Penreach Change Agents, we are focusing, in 2019, on providing guidance to our ECD target centres with establishing natural playgrounds. As Change Agents we conduct routine visits to our target centres around Mpumalanga, for monitoring and mentoring purposes, during our visits we have discovered that most of the centres lack play equipment in the playground, while others do not have any at all.

The lack of resources in the playground has been discovered with the reasons of lack of financial support to provide this type of resource in the centre. This has a significant negative impact on the children’s development, where children are not being active, consequently less development in resilience, confidence and social skills.

The Penreach solution to sourcing resources for the establishment of natural playgrounds in our target centres;
Most Centre Managers and Practitioners do not have the knowledge and guidance of how it can be implemented, which is why Penreach Change Agents have offered support and intervention on the matter during their coaching and mentoring visits.

The establishment of a natural playground includes using natural loose parts from the environment, like pallets, rocks, stones, logs, mud, leaves, water, stumps, sand. Also, the collection of old resources in the community; old tires, suitcases, bath basins amongst others.

These mentioned resources are affordable and easily accessible as they are sourced out from the environment of the community that the centre is based in.

Penreach Case Study:
Woodhouse Community Crèche from Mataffin (a Penreach target centre) received guidance through visits in terms of the natural playground establishment. Community members were involved, where cost-effective and easily accessible materials from the environment were used to build developmentally appropriate playground equipment. They managed to build a balance beam, a sensory wall through old pallets, and a little house for fantasy play. Children are enjoying playing with the equipment and at the same time are learning through play.

Though children develop physically and mentally on both the traditional and natural playground, they explore and have an understanding of nature, experience increased resilience and ability to negotiate risks when playing at the natural playground. Children can also experience a sense of freedom and growth in understanding the importance of proper nutrition through crop farming at the centres.

Playing outside help children to develop their learning abilities and helps them to be healthy, which is why the natural playground for the centres who do not have play equipment can benefit from establishing a natural playground.

Contact the Penreach ECD Team for more information on how you can build your very own natural playground: 013 758 9000 / penreach@penryn.co.za

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