Saturday, 28 November 2015

The importance of a playground. #ip-dip-dopp

Earlier this month I was fortunate to get the opportunity to visit Stockholm through Meynell Games' Ip-Dip Dopp Mobility scheme. You can find out more about Ip-Dip here:
Originally the visit was to look at the impact of the adult of children's play but the focus then changed to the training of those working with children outside of school time in Stockholm.
Whilst there, I took the opportunity to meet up with a fellow blogger who I had been on line friends with for around 4 years. It was lovely to meet up with Suzanne from Interaction Imagination & we also got the chance to visit her preschool for a morning.
Suzanne & I finally meet up in person, after years of chatting on line!
One of the days on our tour, we spent the morning visiting playgrounds across Stockholm with a landscape architect and member of the Swedish Play Association. Anna, explained how originally when many of the new apartment blocks were built around the city, it was intended couples who had already raised their families would live in them but instead many young couples and families moved in. Therefore there was suddenly a need to provide play spaces for children and preschools and schools. Now, when new housing is being built the ground floor is usually set aside for use by schools or preschools. This in turns leads to other issues as these spaces do not usually have dedicated playgrounds for the schools to use.
We saw lots of schools in blocks that had offices, shops or housing in the rest of the building. This meant that there were always lots of children evident in the city as we walked about, the younger children were in hi-vis vests walking with teachers whilst with the older children we noticed the teachers wore the hi-vis vests not the children.
Suzanne had explained to me many times that her school had no playground and therefore she had to take her class out and about to various play parks each day for them to have outdoor play experiences. We were lucky to accompany her and a colleague and their class to a great play park with lots of natural elements and there was another preschool in the park at the same time as us.
The class had to climb up a steep, muddy bank to reach this amazing play park, situated on a hill overlooking Stockholm.
Whilst I marvelled at the experience of choosing a park and then travelling by subway or bus to explore these spaces, I did have to wonder about the fact that the children don't have a familiar everyday play space to explore. I know that my class love just being in the playground some days & even when we come back from Bear Woods or being on a trip off site, they want to just play for a while in the playground. By being in the same space every day they can revisit familiar play types but also build upon their experiences and extend their play day to day. It is a well known fact that young children need the opportunity of repetition to master many skills and make sense of their world, we have all seen children try and try again to master a new skill e.g. climbing on a wobbly log or getting up on a structure. So I do wonder about those children in the Stockholm preschools who are not having these opportunities to build upon their skills through repetition - it is not as if they go to the same space off site again and again on a daily basis.
Suzanne did take us to visit the playground of an older preschool and it was easy to spot the more established ones as we walked about the city as they usually and a dedicated outdoor space attached to the building. Interestingly, though, these playgrounds must be available to the surrounding residents in the evenings and weekends. (The same was true of our partner school in Iceland)
The playground at Mosebacke Forskolor seemed a more familiar space to me, as a nursery teacher and it was great to see so many different areas zoned off for the children to use and interact with on a regular basis. Their loose parts display was one to be envied indeed. They also had an incredibly high sloping structure and climbing wall.
Apologies - it was dark when visiting the playground! Such a treasure haul of loose parts & a very steep climbing slope!
I think that is admirable that city planners are  making sure developers take the educational needs of children into consideration with every new site but I do have concerns that the free nature of play - just opening a door and allowing children to play in a familiar space is being lost to many in Stockholm. We saw some great play parks but they are not the same as a well used and resource playground.

Suzanne has written many posts on some of the many play parks around Stockholm - you can read them here:


  1. It really was wonderful to meet up with you in Stockholm.

    I lament not having a playspace of our own... but at the same time we meet the need of children's repetive play by going to the same spaces regularly to play... each Friday it is the exact same space we play in... while Monday through Wednesday the children choose their playspace from a local selection... and they go through phases of choosing the same space for a while. Thursdays are always our further afield excursion day... where we introduce new play spaces and also visit museums etc...

    The first time to a play space is always free for the children to explore... having a pedagogical agenda means the children are not able to focus on it, as their need to explore their surrounding is greater than their need to "play" in a way the group are more familiar with... so we try to visit each playspace several times so that the play is able to deepen and expand.

    A bonus of not having a play space of our own is that we are very much a part of the community and not hidden away in a child-friendly zone... the youngest children are out and about and are very competent where in just about every preschool I have ever worked in before have said the one and two year olds are not old enough to do or benefit from excursions... I now know this is completely wrong and is more about the adults than the children.

    But yes, I miss having an outdoor space of our own that we can develop in much the same way that you would develop the indoor learning space.

    The children DO make these spaces their own... they use on the whole 4 play-spaces on a very regular basis... one os the square outside the preschool, and is technically not a play space... but the children HAVE made it their space to play... and one is a small garden close to the preschool where the children explore the labyrinth like paths in it and see how nature changes over the seasons... the other two are play parks that are close by... sometimes they will choose the small forest close by to us as well... depending on their play and what they want to do together... The children have a great freedom to choose.

    So sometimes it is hard to know which is best... the play-space of our own where there s the risk we end up there most of the time (and this does not undervalue that play... becuase I too have seen how deep play can be in a safe and familiar play)... and then without a play space of our own the children have a great freedom to choose... and spaces DO become familiar to them and the play is deep and rich... but in the end I think it is the adults that are affected most by the lack of our own play space...

    1. Great points Suzanne & yes I guess it's all about what you are used to. Thanks for allowing us to join you on the trip that morning & for going out of your way to show us around the parks in our area. 4 of the group had a lovely morning in the park behind the hotel on the Friday morning, chatting with the workers there & gaining another insight in play in Stockholm.

  2. This is very interesting. How wonderful to travel as you do, you certainly do have a knack for exploring, and sharing, Kierno. I love how in Europe and the British isles (so to speak), there is an ease of communication and the opportunity to meet and learn together.
    I really like the park with the loose parts, wonderful!

  3. Glenn Walker09 March, 2016

    This is really amazing! We never deny with the importance of a playground every people since from childhood are used to play in grounds. So it's better to prepare good playgrounds and also take care and do regular maintenance through professional help. Most probably playgrounds like tennis and basketball and badminton are requiring good and special attention; so we used to follow different types of service provider to take care of the grounds.
    recycled tennis balls


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