All children need to be challenged in their play environments, and given the opportunity to test personal limits. It is important to remember that a child’s age isn’t necessarily linked to the types of challenge they want to take on, and to provide a variety of experiences for all age groups. Simple design elements can be catalysts for challenge – even something as basic as a series of stepping stones.

What is it?

Challenge refers to the physical and cognitive encounters that a play space provides.

The difference between “hazard” and “challenge” must be understood when creating play settings. Children will use equipment and parts of the environment in all possible ways, regardless of design intentions. Since the idea of play is to explore and maximize the potential of any play setting, children will test its use to the limits of their abilities.

What to do?

The design team must determine the types of challenge that the play space provides, and should consider graduated challenges that involve the presentation of “several levels of difficulty for each activity” and “enables each child to find an optimal level of challenge.”