For many frazzled parents and stressed out babysitters, the playground is a simple way to keep children happy, busy, and entertained. From toddlers to young teens, kids of all ages can spend hours tirelessly running around, swinging, climbing, jumping, and interacting with each other in these play areas. In fact, not just child caregivers appreciate the playground, but the Shasta Children and Families First Commission also declared that playgrounds are “vital for a child’s cognitive, emotional, physical, and social development.”
What are the Physical Benefits?
Playgrounds naturally inspire kids to get out and be active, and running around is seen as a fun activity, not as a basic workout routine. Also, monkey bars strengthen the arms, back, and shoulders, beams, and bridges help with balance, and jungle gyms increase dexterity, spatial-relation skills, and leg strength. The Surgeon General’s 2010 report concluded that about one of every three US children suffers from obesity or being overweight. Also, getting kids to enjoy activity when they’re young helps them form positive habits for life.
What are the Mental Benefits?
A study by Vancouver playgrounds also cites that playground equipment and exploration helps toddlers’ and young children’s brains develop, increase sensory experiences, and strengthen their motor skills and dexterity. Also, the first six years of life are crucial to brain development, and play is incredibly important to that. It helps kids exercise their sensory, spatial, motor, and social skills, thus building more neural connections in the brain.
What are the Social Benefits?
A big benefit for parents and babysitters is that taking a child to a playground lets them interact with other kids, meaning the pressure is on adult entertainment for a bit. But, this has another benefit, too, not just for moms and dads! Playing with other kids stimulates social development skills and group interaction skills, says “The Voice of Play.” For example, kids learn that they need to take turns on the slide, be patient when waiting for a swing, and compromise on rules for gameplay. Just as importantly, meeting new, different children on the playground increases tolerance and awareness. Kids mingling at early ages establishes that people of all races, ethnicities and economic statuses can all be friends, building “citizenship and neighborliness,” according to Linnea Anderson.
What are the Self-Confidence Benefits?
In addition to learning about and accepting children from different walks of life, a child can learn a lot about themselves simply from being on the playground. At first, many kids are nervous when going out to play, worrying if they’ll fall off the monkey bars or get stuck on the climbing wall. However, children are motivated by their peers to try new things, and upon completing them, display wide, giddy smiles. In these instances, self-confidence and self-esteem rise.
Overall, playgrounds are essential for childhood development: mentally, physically, socially, and personally. As Albert Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research.”