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|A playground is more than swings, slides and a means to entertain children. The type of play that happens on a playground represents one of the more important parts of a child’s development. Playgrounds are an essential element to the health and development of the mind and body.
Playgrounds provide opportunities for children to practice a range of social, emotional, physical and mental skills. By understanding the benefits of adding stimulating and challenging outdoor playground equipment to your playground, you can increase the value of play.
A well-designed playground entices children to play and teaches key developmental skills. Playground activities like swinging, climbing and sliding may appear to be "just fun" on the outside, but initiate important body systems to develop and function properly.
The movements children perform on a playground build both gross and fine motor skills, along with core strength. Playground play also enhances the vestibular system — the sensory system that controls balance and coordination — and develops better body awareness.
Self-led exploration on sensory play panels help children to further develop their senses. Our high-touch panels provide multiple ways to grow cognitive, tactile, sensory/motor, emotional/social and language skills, and invite children to play with each other and use their imaginations.
Children can explore the power or rhythm, experience subtle shifts in tone, and discover the many ways individual sounds can be creatively combined through our collection of chimes, metallophones and drums.
A playground provides the environment needed for children to engage in elements that develop key cognitive, social and physical skills. How children play, or their patterns of play, reinforce the importance of having a mixture of indoor playground equipment that encourages an assortment of play behaviors.
In our whitepaper, Shaped by Play: How Play Types Impact Development, we discuss the findings of an observational study by the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development that looked at how play spaces shape a child's development. The study suggests that different playground components facilitate different patterns of play and therefore reinforce different developmental skills. In the study, some components—like the overhead ladders and more complex rope climbers—seemed to attract older children and facilitate independent gross motor play. Sometimes children engaged in group games (e.g., tag) or simply talked to one another as they played (e.g., while swinging side-by-side). Other times, they participated in collaborative activities like pushing one another on the swings or working together to spin on the OmniSpin® Spinner.
Play involving gross motor skills like custom climbers, rope climbers, overhead ladders, rock areas and slides occupied nearly half of kids' playground time. These are active play elements and in contrast to components that are designed to encourage sensory exploration (e.g., the Smart Play® Motion play structure) or that allow children to sit while someone else operates the equipment (e.g., the swings or We-saw™). When children engage in activities that build and develop gross motor skills they are building upper-body, lower-body and core strength, it can also increase heart rate and improve cardiovascular health, agility, balance, and hand-eye coordination.
Additional Skills Supported by Play Patterns on a Playground
Creativity is encouraged when children use child playground set as the basis for imaginative games. A child's imagination turns a climbing tower into a spaceship or boat. Their play morphs and adjusts to their skill level and they create an obstacle course or climb on the outside of a Netplex® playstructure instead of the inside to increase difficulty.
Collaboration and cooperation can be encouraged by specific components that require children to work together. Slides or our ZipKrooz® zipline structures require turn-taking and communication. Our Global Motion® and seesaws also encourage collaboration because children can operate them as a team, some ride and some push. Sound and movement can even be utilized with Pulse® multisensory playground games to encourage collaboration in an interactive way.
Problem-solving skills can be enhanced with various climbing elements. Children work to figure out how to physically navigate a piece of equipment, especially one that is new to them.
Persistence can be encouraged when a child keeps trying and doesn't give up when experiencing a playground activity that is difficult such as crossing the monkey bars. Once a goal is achieved or a skill mastered, the child feels a huge sense of accomplishment and increased self-esteem from working hard to reach a goal.
Playgrounds also offer the opportunity for children of different ages to learn from and help one another. Children will often copy or learn from older children or older children may help younger children—boosting them up while they were climbing, helping them on and off the equipment, encouraging them not to be scared, and offering to help them down from the top of a tall structure. These mixed-age social interactions are an important part of children's social experiences on the playground.
The play patterns of children illustrate the importance of having a variety of school outdoor playground that encourages an assortment of play behaviors. Check out our many options of age-appropriate and challenging equipment or contact a Landscape Structures consultant .
Most adults remember their school recess times with fondness. These opportunities to leave the constraints of the classroom behind and set out for another playground adventure are memories you cherish forever.
However, today’s children are overwhelmed with an abundance of activities and fewer opportunities to enjoy outside play. Video games, TV, after-school activities and an increasing focus on academics have led to disappearing playgrounds and playtime. This reduction in free play can negatively impact the development of children.
Playgrounds are essential safe spaces where children can be themselves and express their fun-loving nature while developing crucial cognitive, physical, social and emotional skills. In this post, we’ll explore why more and more child development experts are advocating for more playgrounds and the increasing importance of parks and playgrounds.
Playgrounds are safe spaces where kids develop crucial physical, social, emotional and imaginative skills. In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at how a child’s development benefits from playing on the playground.
Learning Through Play
You can’t have a playground without play. To put it simply, play is a spontaneous activity children engage in to have fun. Experts in a variety of fields including psychology, biology, health and education have conducted a multitude of studies on the concept of childhood play all proving the same critical fact — play is an essential aspect of learning.
Play is fueled by a child’s curiosity. As a child grows, their play becomes more complex. Without being able to play, children’s ability to develop and learn is stunted. Just as eating and sleeping are essential to a child’s health, so too is play.
Playgrounds are the perfect place for children to engage in free play. Structured play — including sports or organized activities — differs from free play. When kids are on the playground, different structures and spaces give them the freedom to choose how they want to play. They can explore their own natural tendencies, interact with a broader range of age groups and awaken their creative instincts.
When you watch children on a playground, you’ll soon see that although they’re having fun, they’re definitely getting a workout. The CDC recommends children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day — and the playground is the perfect place to get this done. Plus, when kids get into the habit of exercising and see it as an enjoyable experience, it encourages them to remain active as they get older.
Playgrounds are a vital aspect of healthy development, providing a place for children to get a full-body workout, including exercises that strengthen their arms, legs, torso and so on. From the cardiovascular system to the circulatory system, each is nurtured and benefited through vigorous play. Children see a vast variety of physical benefits through preschool outdoor playground:
Improved flexibility and balance
Development of overall motor skills, dexterity and hand-eye coordination
Opportunities to learn how to control their movement
Promotion of healthy heart and lung function
Improved immune function
Lowered risk of obesity and diabetes
When children spend time on the playgrounds, they learn diverse skills and test their limits by trying out the various equipment. Slides, swings, climbers and more encourage kids to develop their agility, speed, strength, balance and coordination.
Playgrounds are not generally a solitary activity. Whenever you visit a playground, other kids are bound to be there. When children meet other kids on the playground, it teaches them important lessons about social norms and how to interact with others, all of which will come in handy in adult relationships and their future workplace. Learned social skills include:
The physical and social benefits of play are more obvious. However, there are also subtle emotional changes in your child’s wellbeing that may not be as recognizable, yet are still vitally important.
Physical activity and unstructured playtime on a playground serve as a healthy way to help children deal with their emotions and reduce stress levels. Not only can play serve as a distraction from their problems, but happiness is a natural byproduct of outdoor activities.
Children experience many other positive emotional impacts when they’re allowed the freedom to play on a playground. Playground play benefits children because it:
Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem as they master challenging playground structures
Allows them to retain a sense of control unavailable in many other parts of their lives
Lowers tendencies to misbehave or bully, as kids’ attention is diverted with more positive activities
Teaches them how to deal with challenges in a healthy way
Kids do more than slide, swing and climb when on a playground. Just listen to the conversations, and you’ll realize a variety of other make-believe games are taking place. Imaginary play is a given whenever kids are on the playground.
When children use their imagination and play make-believe, it teaches them social roles. Creativity also fosters a child’s ability to problem-solve and develop their personality. By using their imagination, kids can try out different ideas and identities. This helps them construct a strong sense of self, as they discover their likes, dislikes and beliefs. Although developing self-identity will continue throughout their young life, the foundation begins with these innocent make-believe activities on the playground.
Makes Education More Fun
When a child’s school has a playground, these short breaks allow kids freedom and fun, which, in turn, makes the educational experience more fun. In fact, researchers now understand the importance of playgrounds in schools and how they have an important impact on a child’s ability to learn and develop.
Opportunities for play also have an effect on children’s attendance rate at the primary school level. When a child knows there will be opportunities to let loose, they often find it easier to listen and learn in the classroom environment.
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