Promoting Mindfulness through Sensory Playground Design

How can Play Promote Intellectual Development and Mindfulness in Children?

The school playground is a great space to play and develop important skills and an understanding of the world. Fostering mindfulness in your playground design and continuous provision of free play is a vital method to help children develop a healthy respect for others and improve their self-regulation.

What is Mindfulness?

Children often struggle to be fully present in the classroom and engage with others in situation-appropriate ways. Teaching mindfulness is a way to help kids to understand how to act and process their thoughts and feelings in positive ways.

Creating a positive space for the expression of all of the stresses and excitements that kids feel without judgement, while also providing positive social and emotional stimuli, can help develop this sense of mindfulness in natural ways.

Emotional regulation difficulties can lead to academic struggles, short attention spans, and problems developing healthy relationships with peers. Therefore, integrating respect for mindfulness of astudent’s own emotions, as well as others’ feelings into everyday life and independent time on the playground should become an important part of any school playground design.

Why is Mindfulness important to Development?

As mentioned above, mindfulness is a multi-faceted part of childhood development which sets up multiple areas of healthy childhood development.

Here are some of the prime areas in which mindfulness education and integration assist critical childhood development:

  • Self-awareness- assessing your own feelings in an open and honest way helps with internal problem recognition and developmental individualism to give confidence and encourage self-expression and positive coping strategies.
  • Self-regulation- self-reflection and awareness come together to allow children to act in more appropriate ways which are helpful to reduce impulsive and harmful behaviours.
  • Empathy- Through understanding themselves, children develop compassion for others to build stronger friendships and foster a happier school environment.
  • Attention- Reducing impulsivity and growing a mindful understanding of themselves and others can improve academic engagement and interest in learning in school starters.
  • Independence- Building confidence through understanding and a more measured way of approaching surroundings effectively promote independence and self-assuredness
Children playing together on a timber play bridge

Why is Play Important in Early Years and Primary Education and Play Provision?

The school playground is a very freeing place for children, so a great way to provide stimuli to develop mindfulness and help kids experience the benefits of learning through play. Play theory is an important aspect of modern school playground design, including the continuous provision of imaginative play and a holistic active play education that fosters a positive atmosphere of self-expression and mindfulness.

Imaginative play and curiosity are key to many expressions of independent play and group playground games. KS2 children often invent their own exploratory games and play pretend as a way to engage with their surroundings and grow their knowledge of the world. Discovering new things about themselves, and others through play develops a sense of freedom and independence in many ways unique to the school playground.

While this kind of imaginative play is an informal way to develop mindfulness through play, this can be formalised through continuous provision for immersive experiences through sensory equipment. To provide inclusive playground equipment provision, different areas of sensory play must be considered. Tactile sensory panels engage with an exploratory aspect of mindfulness with group educational games and creative team-building activities and playground games for primary schools can be created around music sets to enhance musical play in new ways.

Being outside in nature is also a great way to provide a calming atmosphere for self-reflection and stress reduction. Creating safe, quiet spaces outdoors in outdoor classrooms or seating areas is a great way to bring the benefits of outdoor learning in primary schools where a lot of this social-emotional education is taught inside the classroom.

Children in a small wooden tee-pee structure

Playground Ideas for Primary Schools for Mindfulness Provision

Being mindful of others and their surroundings can come in many forms depending on your students’ stage of development and age group. However, all provision of mindful play and experiences is based around a few core principles:

  • Movement
  • Imagination
  • Independence
  • Togetherness

Clambering on active play equipment can become a great setting for kids to invent imaginative games with their friends, developing ideas around their role within a shared setting of play. Healthy competition through races along trim trail equipment or on Daily Mile Tracks with engaging playground markings for formalised instruction in mindfulness wellbeing activities in primary school education that can be overlooked inside the classroom.

As well as team building activities and active play education, independence and collaboration through creativity on the playground are also effective in promoting mindfulness. Quiet play in the outdoors with arts & crafts play panel equipment or giant Ludo board games on playground markings with a few friends can really help build empathy and understanding for students within themselves, and with others.

School playground with climbing panels and game play markings

Looking to promote Mindfulness in your next Playground Project?

Providing well-being activities for primary school children on the school playground should be essential to any play area. Play is an increasingly utilised tool to promote healthy childhood development, and The School Playground Company has designed many of our products around holistic and continuous provision for this development and learning through play.

To get started on your journey with us, you can fill in our handy contact form at the top of the page, email us at or give us a call at: 01455 412134.

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