The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds That Enhance Children's Development

The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds That Enhance Children's Development

by Susan G. Solomon


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The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds That Enhance Children's Development by Susan G. Solomon

Poor design and wasted funding characterize today’s American playgrounds. A range of factors—including a litigious culture, overzealous safety guidelines, and an ethos of risk aversion—have created uniform and unimaginative playgrounds. These spaces fail to nurture the development of children or promote playgrounds as an active component in enlivening community space.

Solomon’s book demonstrates how to alter the status quo by allying data with design. Recent information from the behavioral sciences indicates that kids need to take risks; experience failure but also have a chance to succeed and master difficult tasks; learn to plan and solve problems; exercise self-control; and develop friendships. Solomon illustrates how architects and landscape architects (most of whom work in Europe and Japan) have already addressed these needs with strong, successful playground designs. These innovative spaces, many of which are more multifunctional and cost effective than traditional playgrounds, are both sustainable and welcoming. Having become vibrant hubs within their neighborhoods, these play sites are models for anyone designing or commissioning an urban area for children and their families.

The Science of Play, a clarion call to use playground design to deepen the American commitment to public space, will interest architects, landscape architects, urban policy makers, city managers, local politicians, and parents.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611686104
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

SUSAN G. SOLOMON (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the author of American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space and Louis I. Kahn’s Jewish Architecture. She heads her own research firm, Curatorial Resources & Research, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Table of Contents

The Problem
Risk and Independence
Failing and Succeeding
Executive Function
Nature and Exploration

What People are Saying About This

Yashar Hanstad

“It’s nice to read a book that is emphasizing how children’s needs . . . can influence design so directly!”

Nicholas Day

“We should stop settling.That’s what this necessary book tells us: our playgrounds don’t have to be the homogenous, soulless places that they are. Instead, they can be places of great possibility—more stimulating, more inventive, more inclusive, more alive. (And less expensive, too.) With stunning case studies from across the world, Susan Solomon shows us how far behind we are—and gives us a blueprint for how to catch up. We have no more excuses.”

Amy F. Ogata

“This is a book for anyone—landscape architect, park administrator, or parent—seeking better outdoor play spaces. Solomon’s research shows the critical place of risk taking for children and her visually compelling, sometimes truly astonishing examples from around the globe reveal new realms of possibility. Solomon guides us to reconsider the types of play we aim to foster without romanticizing either children or play, and with a practical approach to encouraging more adventurous thinking about playground design.”

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