Quick guide: The role of playgrounds in children’s development

playgrounds in children's development

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Having regular access to an outdoor space packed with interesting kids’ playground equipment provides children of all ages with opportunities which are vital to their development. They’ll learn valuable physical, intellectual and emotional skills that will influence them into adulthood.

Fresh Air

With so many absorbing indoor toys and games available to keep them entertained as they learn, many parents must wonder, are playgrounds essential for children? But children of all ages do certainly benefit from a daily dose of fresh air. Even tiny babies are known to be more relaxed and enjoy a more peaceful sleep at night if they have been outside, especially in gentle sunshine for a while, that will provide them with vitamin D to help strengthen their bones. Being outside for regular play will allow all children the chance to refresh themselves. They will absorb stimulating oxygen, particularly when combined with physical activity, that will replenish minds that are constantly expanding with new information. Consequently, they’ll be more energetic, alert and far more attentive in the next learning experience they encounter.

Balance And Coordination

Childhood is all about learning a multitude of skills that adults take for granted. Gross motor skills that take you up a flight of stairs so easily, have to be learned from the very beginning by a child. They literally have to develop the art of putting one foot in front of another and finding out where it takes them. An early childhood playground with steps, platforms and ramps, all with conveniently placed safety rails for them to grip, actually helps them practise these manoeuvres while they enjoy themselves. As they become more proficient at these seemingly complicated procedures, their general confidence, balance and coordination will increase and they will learn to be more aware of their surroundings. For children to develop finer skills such as using pencils and cutlery, it is vital for them to first learn to control their physical movements, and they will learn in the outdoor playground.

Physical Activity

Adults frequently turn to physical activity to relieve stress and improve their health with regular exercise. A child’s needs are exactly the same and good habits learned early will last into adulthood. Physical exercise learned by using platforms, climbing frames, ropes and bars to pull themselves up on and simply running around, all strengthen children’s muscles, increase their blood flow and oxygen intake. They will benefit from having the space and freedom to race about, hop, roll and shout away from the restrictions of being indoors. Fretful children can release their frustrations by running around uninhibited.

The role of playgrounds in children's development

Broadening Horizons

Although having a small outdoor playground in your own backyard is convenient and safe for your children, taking them on an outing to the local park can provide them with extra stimulation and excitement. For smaller children, the journey there and back provides opportunities for them to become accustomed to every day sights and sounds such as traffic and dogs barking that they may at first find alarming. Older children will benefit from being shown how to cross roads safely, learning how to navigate their way to the park and enjoying the experience of perhaps traveling a short distance on public transport. Any new stimulus will help develop children’s perception and increase their knowledge of their expanding world.

New Challenges

One advantage of visiting a playground in a local park is that they will have a greater variety of equipment based on children’s age than you could possibly have at home. This allows children to see other possibilities of exercising and enjoy the fun of learning how to use different equipment in the next age range to their own, under supervision of course. They will benefit from an encouraging sense of achievement that can be gained from tackling new challenges.

Understanding Their Surroundings

Combine outings to public playgrounds with games to search for items such as leaves that will help them identify different trees. Gather twigs and stones to take home as a reminder of their special day out. Encourage their imaginations by teaching them to paint a picture of their favourite playground equipment, or the insects and birds they may have seen.

Social Skills

The outdoor playground allows all children the opportunity to learn vital social and emotional skills as they encounter other children from different backgrounds to their own. They will begin to learn about other children’s personalities, making friends along the way. Learning to share their time playing with other children will teach them social skills that will stand them in good stead as they grow up.

So, why is outdoor play important for children’s development? An outdoor playground provides children with opportunities for developing essential motor skills that are vital to their early development. As they exercise, their sense of coordination will improve, enabling them to enhance their finer abilities. They will meet other children enabling them to start learning valuable social and emotional skills. Encountering new situations and objects will help provide intellectual stimulus while enjoying the freedom of carefree activity in open spaces.

Did you know about the role of playgrounds in children’s development? Do share in a comment below.

About the author: Riya is a writer who enjoys decorating her home, crafting, trying new recipes. She is also a runner who likes to enjoy the morning breeze. Her Twitter, @sanderriya.

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