Playground Supervision Tips

Maintaining supervision is the only way to keep children safe on a playground. Anytime you’re supervising children distractions will arise. If, for whatever reason, your attention is required somewhere other than the group of children, you need to identify an alternative. For example, if a child is injured on the playground you’ll need to take your eyes off of the other children to address the situation. If this occurs, make sure another employee is there to continue supervising the children or get the other children off of the playground equipment as quickly as possible.

Maintain Appropriate Surveillance Positions
Another important component in ensuring safe playgrounds is proper positioning. If certain areas are out of view, reposition so as much of the playground is visible. Obstructions like trees or parts of the playground will hinder the ability to observe the entire area at once, which is why it’s so important to position staff appropriately.

In the picture to the right you can see an example of a playground element that would make it difficult to see the entire playground at one time. From the angle this photo has been taken from you can see almost the entire playground, but if you were to stand on the opposite end you wouldn’t be able to effectively supervise by yourself.

Do Not Spend Time Conversing
People watching children at the playground often strike up conversations with one another. This situation hinders supervision since both adults are distracted and certain areas will not be completely supervised due to inadequate positioning. Conversations should be kept to a minimum.

Cell Phones
Texting, talking, and browsing on a cell phone while supervising children should be prohibited. Just as is the case with lifeguards and texting, people watching children on a playground must know that using their phones can significantly reduce their ability to effectively watch children. If you oversee a staff that supervises children consider adding a zero tolerance cell phone policy to your employment manual. After all, bad things happen when childcare provider and parents text around children.

Always Observe Adult-to-Child Ratios
Maintaining ratios between children and adult supervision is very important in ensuring playground safety. Depending on the number of children playing on the playground, the amount of staff will need to increase accordingly. Even if the entire playground is in view of staff, providing appropriate supervision is impossible if there are too many children to watch at once.

Determining appropriate ratios can be difficult and several factors must be considered. The following are some of the most important factors to consider when deciding what adult-to-child ratios are sufficient for your playground:

  • The number of children;
  • The age of the children;
  • The size and configuration of the playground;
  • The type of structures and equipment available on the playground; and
  • The geography and location of the playground.