You’d be hard-pressed to find any child (or adult!) who doesn’t love a good slide. And we’ve loved them for ages! From the small plastic toddler slides to the towering water slides, they’re fun for everyone, and a jungle gym just isn’t the same without a slide.
And there’s all manner of benefits for kids in playing on a slide! The rush of visuals and movements helps with coordination and cognitive development, and the process of getting on and off a slide uses both fine and gross motor skills. Plus, it’s heaps of fun, and keeps the kids entertained for ages! The more attachments a jungle gym has, the more varied styles of play children can have to keep them entertained and help them burn energy.
However, there are always safety rules kids should be taught to prevent injuries. Here are some best practices to keep your kids and others safe.
Practice Caution – encourage kids not to rush up the jungle gym to get to the slide, taking the climbing frame one rung at a time. We know this can be tricky since kids are naturally full of energy and want to run, but racing to get to the slide first can result in injuries.
Don’t climb the slide – slippy slides are exactly that; slippery. Teach the little ones not to try climbing or running up the slide, as they can easily slip and fall, or perhaps another child isn’t looking and slides down into them. They also run the risk of falling off. A general rule of thumb is to just use the slide how it was designed to be used.
Feet first – There are right and wrong ways to do things. Sliding on your front or backwards is definitely a recipe for disaster. Kids should use the slide feet first, facing forward and sitting up rather than lying back to avoid hitting their heads.
Patience is a virtue – Children are always bustling for their chance to use the slide, but it’s essential they take the slide one at a time. Don’t slide in pairs, and wait for the child at the bottom to be off the slide and out of the way before sliding.
Look before you slide – Like we encourage our kids to look before crossing the street, taking a moment to look down the slide to make sure the path is clear of other children or obstacles is a good way to prevent accidents. They should also get up and move away from the slide as soon as they reach the bottom to make way for the next child.
Avoid hot slides – Even plastic slippy slides can get pretty hot in Summer, especially here in SA. Check the slide before your little ones play to make sure it isn’t too hot. Toddlers especially have delicate skin and poor mobility/reaction times, which can result in burns.
No leaping – this should be pretty self-explanatory, but children shouldn’t be jumping straight off the slide, doing running starts to slide, or jumping halfway down the slide. This is bound to result in an injury, besides the fact that it rather defeats the point of a slide.
Use age-appropriate equipment – If the kids are playing on a playground with varied jungle gyms for all ages, make sure they stick to the equipment specifically designed for their age group. A toddler on a bigger slide for larger children runs the risk of injury or getting the way of more boisterous older kids. The same goes for a toddler jungle gym, which is too small for larger kids to be climbing all over it.
These are just some of the precautions you can take and teach kids to keep them safe during playtime on the jungle gyms with slides. But play it by ear as well. Children should always be supervised on the playground equipment, and if you see them doing something potentially dangerous, it’s a good idea to step in. Kids will always get bumps and scrapes when they play, and injuries aren’t always avoidable. But with the right care and teaching, they can be largely avoided.