Supporting social play

Your playground is a fantastic space to support social play and aid children’s development. It’s through playtime that they get to interact most with other children. They learn valuable communication skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives without even knowing it.

There are lots of ways that you can encourage healthy socialisation every day. Whether you allow children to get out in their playground to interact with their peers or having one on one time with them, you can easily support their development through play.

children using a playground tunnel for social play

Importance of social play

Social play is vitally important to children’s emotional development. The bonds they make when they are little help shape their future relationships with others. They learn about making and following rules as they play, and discover the importance of playing fair for social cohesion.

Children get their first taste of conflict resolution and emotional resilience through social play. If someone isn’t “playing properly” or is upset a game isn’t going in the way they’d like, they need to navigate the emotional situation carefully. With a little encouragement from adults, they can learn to empathise and manage negative emotions.

Engaging in social play also helps to support communication skills. Children must learn to use language to interact with their peers to progress the game. In creative role play, they act out scenarios that mimic the adult wold and begin practising skills they’ll use every day in later life.

It also teaches children about non-verbal forms of communication. They experience different physical reactions to their actions like gestures and body language, as well as facial expressions. These are all valuable social cues they can use to build relationships and understand the written and implied rules of every day communication.

Social play equipment

There are lots of fantastic pieces of playground equipment that you can use to support social play. They fit naturally into your space and enhance your play offering. Your equipment helps to shape and inspire playtime activities.

Creative play

Playground drawing boards are great for individual and social and creative play. Children can use them for games and to help keep score for active play. They can write stories and draw together, sharing the space and talking about their creations.

children enjoying creative social play on outdoor black boards

children using a role play tractor in their playground

Role play

Role play equipment comes in lots of different forms and helps to inspire imaginations. Children can go on adventures on play boats and trains, pretend to be farmers and shop owners. They create imaginary worlds with each other and act their social role within the game.

Tower systems

Tower systems are the social heart of your playground. They’re the base for games and offer space to hide away with friends to swap gossip and build friendships while at play. Tower systems are also brilliant for encouraging active play too.

children on a playground tower system

Get in touch

Image Playgrounds are experts at designing spaces to encourage social play. No matter what size or budget, we’ll work with you to create a fun, safe environment children can enjoy while they build friendships and navigate our complex social world.

We offer a free site survey and 3D design with every playground. Get in touch to arrange yours today.