The impact of playground spatial features on children’s play and social behavior
Spontaneous and unregulated play in neighborhood spaces, particularly in the cities, is increasingly becoming an activity of the past. Parents does not allow their children’s to the neighborhood fields/parks/ streets mainly because of traffic danger, bullying and stranger problem, thinking it is the best for their safety. Children are encouraged to participate in regulated play environments in their homes, friend's homes and commercial “play or recreation” facilities. This type of regulatory practice may help to “protect” children from being exposed to environmental hazards, but has long-term consequences for their social and emotional competence (Tranter and Pawson 2001). When neighborhoods are not supportive of children's needs, children are limited in their capacity to experience and explore their environments and engage in cognitive play and outdoor learning– behaviors that lead to environmental learning.
The school ground is one of the few places where children can interact with their peers in a natural, outdoor environment in an unregulated way. School grounds should be places where children engage in a range of play activities. Play should be fun, active, spontaneous, self-initiated, challenging and linked closely with learning and development. The school ground is the “stage” where children act out, spontaneously and freely, the events that touch their lives.
Due to the shortage of open space in our country utilizing these school ground to its full extent should be prioritized. Research has revealed the way in which children can learn especially through play is strongly influenced by the spatial features of play grounds (Magdalena Czalczynska- Podolska, 2014). In our country school playground are considered as a place of play only, their informal influence in the development of quality education is not considered. The play and social potential of a playground, can influence the children’s quality of education. School grounds have potential as a rich resource for formal learning; they are also outdoor classrooms that can be explored by children outside classroom time. As well as these obvious connections with the outdoor environment, a diverse and well-designed play environment provides an opportunity to develop important lessons on cooperation, ownership, belonging, respect and responsibility. Various school ground should be surveyed focusing on behavioral mapping, interview, analysis of children’s drawing and analyzing what features contribute to the specific activities. Feedback from both children and authorities should be taken to have their ideas on school ground use. This study will contribute in the future playground planning, design and modifying existing playground by providing the feature this research finds out.