Approach to Designing School Playgrounds

“Children need the freedom and the time to play. Play is not the luxury, it’s a necessity.”

: Kay Redfield Jamison


The presence of the playground and its role in the school ecosystem has gained a renewed, and critical importance. This is not entirely due to common sense or fortunate circumstances; things have come to it through a crisis.

Childhood and adolescence used to be and needs to be predominated by play -- frivolous or organized.

Parents often discuss the concerns regarding the children’s health, and the reasons behind these concerns are predominated by the rise in the indulgence in the virtual digital world and the resultant decline in the physical activity. This did happen by degrees but its direct resultant effects are drastic.


The concern of parents is widespread but is not exclusively theirs. Policymakers have taken cognizance of the alarming circumstances as the declaration of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) mandating perusal of sports in schools makes evident. It has been put on record that deprivation of physical activity coupled with indulgence in the virtual online world has created a juvenile health crisis and to combat it policy intervention has been made at school education level.

It is the challenge before us to make the real playground as appealing as the virtual ones. We will have to match the diversity of the virtual playgrounds of online gaming scenarios convincingly at schools through expanding the inventory of sports and games.

At the same time, we will have to make it evident that the curriculum is complemented by the extra-curricular activities and sports and academics are not rivals for a rational mind.

We will need spaces to accomplish these goals and space management is what efficient school architects and designers are supposed to accomplish through innovation and inventiveness.


Impact of Playground on child development

We have dealt with the importance of sports in the development of the individual in his or her formative years in a separate article, however, we must reiterate that the sports and games are crucial for the development of the brain besides the body. If physical activity is compromised with then regardless of the pretext, the future of the child is compromised.

Importance of child health and growth are not the subjects that entertain debate and the rising incidences of maladies as common as childhood obesity and as complex as internet addiction are reinforcing the need for encouragement of sports from the early developmental stages.


Why are Playgrounds Important?

Sports are critical for the overall growth of the students, schools are therefore required to have playgrounds, fields, tracks, courts etc, to facilitate the growth of interest in students towards sports.

The sports do not differ much from academics or artistic ventures when it comes to the diversity of the individual interest. Interest in sports is dictated by many factors among which culture is not the least significant. Schools can engender interest in sports by providing authentic play areas for different sports.

While planning the school, a playground must be given priority at par with classrooms not just for statutory reasons but for the sake of development of potentials in students and learning outcomes besides safeguarding their health.

Day school or boarding, playgrounds are integral in the planning stage. Citing constraints of space while arguing in favor of marginalizing play spaces, school promoters must keep in mind that the parents are increasingly conscious of the harms of the sedentary lifestyle and view the availability of sports facilities in a school as critical. And as far as budgetary and space constraints are concerned, expert planning and designing can overcome them to a surprising degree.

Vinod Kakumanu

Vinod Kakumanu

Founder & Consultant - School Serv

Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.

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