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What are the benefits of a playground communication board?
Playgrounds are important for children’s physical and mental health. They let kids explore their surroundings, run around, and blow off some steam after a long day of school. For kids who have difficulty communicating or engaging with others, playgrounds can also be a great place to practice these skills. However, for non-verbal children practicing those skills can be challenging if their communication tools are not readily available. One way to make sure playgrounds are inclusive to all children is through the use of a designated public display communication board. While we have typically called them “ Playground Communication Boards” they can be used in any public location. Communication boards can be used in multiple school locations such as hallways, classrooms, and school playgrounds. They can also be installed in different public buildings such as waterparks, museums, aquariums, stores, restaurants, public playgrounds, and even waiting rooms for therapy services.
The primary benefit of a communication board as the name says is communication. The other benefits are awareness, socialization, inclusion, learning and social emotional growth.
Inclusion is a human right. Children who don’t speak verbal have the same rights to be included in activities as verbal children. We must provide equal access and opportunities, including communication access and communication opportunities. Public communication boards can be a way to implement these practices. Communication is a large benefit of the playground communication boards. Communication plays a big role in everyone’s lives. It gives children the right to communicate and have commonly used vocabulary in each location readily available, regardless of whether they have already been receiving services by a professional who gave them access to their personal communication boards. It provides all children the opportunity to talk about what they see and want to do during playtime together.
- Public Awareness
The playground communication boards promote public awareness of speech-language services and special education services. Many parents who do not have personal experience with working with neuro-diverse children are unaware of signs that their child needs help, or of the services out there designed to help. These boards can raise awareness by not only by bringing an accomodation to the forefront, but also by including a place on the sign such as ECI (early childhood intervention) that a parent can reach out to about concerns.
Another important awareness to think about is helping all kids and adults understand that children with disabilities can play just like them when given proper accommodations.
A playground communication board augments a child’s ability to be a part of whatever activity is taking place on the playground alongside their friends. We are helping to prevent children from getting left out simply because they are needing help interacting with their peers. When a child knows what their friend is trying to say, it is easier for them to better play alongside one another!
Children can strengthen their friendships and develop stronger bonds using these communication boards. Like being able to bring lively jokes into their conversations and have fun by being silly together. They can develop their social skills and be able to express their manners by pointing to “please and “sorry”. Also having the ability to communicate helps children feel more connected to the people around them. Children get these connections at school, at home, and in public settings.
Socialization with peers is an important aspect of child development. Providing children with a public display communication board will take away one of the barriers for interaction: the ability to communicate by pointing to pictures that represent the meaning they are trying to convey. A playground communication board is also giving children a structured format to interact and connect with others. A communication board can include vocabulary words that may prompt communication exchanges between children who may need a structured approach to communication, a trait of some Autistic communicators.
Being able to use the communication boards is especially beneficial when it comes to friendships between all children regardless of their communication abilities. These boards encourage children without disabilities to talk to children with disabilities. A playground communication board is an important tool when bridging the gaps for non-verbal kids.
- Linguistic Accessibility
Depending on the geographic area in which the communication board is being placed, creating a bilingual or multilingual communication board can provide linguistic accessibility. This will ensure that families and children who speak a language other than English can also access all the benefits of a communication board. Bilingual communication boards are one step that can make emerging bilingual families feel safe and comfortable in navigating their communities’ resources. When communication boards include awareness about services and disabilities in languages other than English, it will raise awareness to all communities and reduce the information gap in non-english communities about access to services and resources for their children.
- Reduced stress from verbal communication
By making our playgrounds more inclusive, we can enable families and children of all abilities to develop physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Meeting kids’ needs where they are without putting unrealistic expectations on them to communicate verbally in order to have their needs met. This helps children work on their communication skills in a format they feel comfortable asking questions or sharing what they want to do next. The board can also be used by friends playing together at the playground. They will find themselves able to communicate with each other in new less threatening ways.
Public display communication boards are not just for non-verbal children. Children can learn a multitude of skills through one with adult guidance at a playground. They can practice their reading skills, learn a few words in a new language, build picture/object relationships, and learn about acceptance of children who are different from them. Once again, not just children with communication disorders experience this benefit. It assists children who struggle to communicate verbally, but helps children in general with language and development of all children.
You can purchase a communication board directly from Smarty Symbols at https://www.playgroundcommunicationboards.com