Albert Einstein said, “Play is the highest form of research.” Even back then, scholars were aware of the many benefits that playing has on youngsters. Remember all the good times you had as a child climbing across monkey bars, going down the slide, and having a blast with your friends outside. The playground definitely benefits all, but developing children the most.
Promotes Physical Exercise
Running, jumping, and climbing are just a few gross motor skills that playgrounds allow for. We know how important it is for children and adults alike to get their hearts pumping and limbs moving. In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since the 1970s. Getting some daily exercise on the playground can combat this trend.
- It is recommended for children and adolescents to get 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents put limits on screen time ( e.g. TV, social media, and video games).
Fosters Social-Emotional Development
On the playground, children learn vital interpersonal skills such as sharing and turn-taking, communication, conflict resolution, and recognizing emotions within and in others. Play brings youngsters together to use their imagination and be free to have fun. Wasn’t recess your favorite subject in school too?
- Free play can help children learn to communicate with others and practice conversation while building vocabulary.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 20 minutes of recess per day.
Playgrounds should be accessible and safe for children of all skill level, and the equipment should reflect this. Appropriate inclusive structures address the needs of the whole child, regardless of any disabilities. Let’s face it- the joy of playing does not discriminate!
- Inclusive design enables grandparents and older adults to participate more comfortably in having fun and supervising as well.
- Research shows that disability awareness intervention have significant positive effects on children’s understanding and attitude toward people with disabilities.
Cultivates Appreciation for Nature and Exploration
Nature play is a hot commodity these days with parents and educators encouraging children to interact with a playground that mimics nature. Being outside in the fresh air, perhaps surrounded by trees and other earthy materials, allows children to discover new manipulatives to build with (e.g. rocks, twigs, sand, etc.) and use their senses while exploring their environment.
- Exploring nature in a playground could be especially helpful for children in urban areas, who may not have access to natural areas.
- Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress, and have lower incidences of behavioral disorders, anxiety and depression.
It’s evident that playgrounds have many benefits from boosting children’s physical health to helping them become one with nature. Research and professionals agree that play supports the different areas of development. So go ahead and have some outside fun!