Jumping. Running. Climbing. Having fun! Physical activity is a core component of every child’s total development, promoting self-confidence and re-charging the mind. Odyssey understands this fact and has developed what we believe to be the finest playgrounds of any childcare program in the nation and we created them with the goal of having our outdoor play time become an additional learning environment that enhances what happens inside our classrooms.
We know that a quality playground experience must start with safety, so we divided all of our playgrounds into distinct areas of age-appropriate play. Our infants have their own outdoor covered play space. Our toddlers use the covered play areas and have their own play structure. The preschoolers can play under cover and also get their own, more advanced, play set. And each of these areas are divided by tall fencing that keeps diverse age groups apart so that there’s less risk of the older children accidentally harming the younger ones.
But safety doesn’t just end with effective design. Go observe most other daycares and you’ll see a wide range of ages of children all playing together while the staff sits and chats on a bench. Not at Odyssey. Our children aren’t combined across wide age spans and we don’t have benches. Not a one. Our teachers are required to interact and engage with the children while they’re on the playgrounds. They are trained to coordinate specific activities to keep the children entertained even when outside. At Odyssey, outdoor play is not a free-for-all; it’s just another opportunity for learning in a different setting.
Nationally, we were the first childcare company to use poured-in-place, soft safety surfacing on all of our playgrounds. This rubbery material is cleaner, safer and healthier than the playground materials such as mulch, sand, pea gravel, etc., found on most of our competitors’ playgrounds.
Then, in 2014, we took our playgrounds to new heights. We tore out most of the soft safety surfacing immediately around our play structures and replaced it with synthetic grass. This grass provides all the same health and safety benefits as the poured-in-place surfacing, but creates a more natural sensory area that is beautiful and makes the children feel as if they’re playing in their own back yard.
Our preschool play structures have been specifically designed to provide ample opportunities for exploration and physical exertion, featuring slides, bridges, crawl-through tubes, monkey bars, rock walls, creative play panels and other fun elements.
All play structures are covered with awnings to shade the children from Alabama’s hot southern sun, in addition to the massive permanent covered play areas that allow our kids to go outside even on the rainiest days.
And, speaking of the hot southern sun, we know that every child loves to play in the water. So, Odyssey offers water play areas in which the children can run and jump in their swimsuits each June and July.