Playful Pathways - 5 Benefits of Trail-Based Play for Children
The American Hiking Society recently shared guidance on using trails during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are venturing outdoors more and more and trails, when used responsibly, can be a great place to spend some time outdoors. If you plan for your trail to be a playful pathway, they can be a lot of fun for the entire family.
What is a Playful Pathway?
Trail enthusiast site All Trails has a list of more than 64,000 trails in the United States. Studies suggest only a small minority of children and families are actually using them. There is a growing movement to activate underutilized trails by infusing playful activities for people of all ages and abilities.
Enter the Play Trail
A Play Trail is a concept based on the research found in Pathways for Play, a guidebook for designing playful trails. It contains research and design best practices for creating pockets of play along a trail.
One type of Play Trail uses manufactured playground equipment. The playground equipment is nature-themed and represents animals and their habitats. When children explore the trail, they discover fun play activities that teach them about the natural world.
How Can Children Benefit from a Play Trail?
Exploring trails of any type can be beneficial for children and families. People experience physical activity, enjoy the natural surroundings, and engage in positive social behavior. But a Play Trail offers five unique benefits over a typical trail.
Spontaneous play happens when children play together without being directed by adults. This is a crucial part of childhood development. The best place for spontaneous play is outdoors.
Outdoor play gives children plenty of room to move and explore. When children are outdoors, they are more likely to experience higher levels of physical activity.
When children move, they experience significant cognitive benefits. They learn how to move multiple parts of their body at the same time. Children develop a greater sense of balance and movement in relation to objects around them.
As children grow older, they crave independence. They look for places to explore and new peer groups for interaction. A playful pathway gives children an opportunity to experience this important developmental milestone in a fun and safe way.
Playful pathways offer children opportunities to experience nature in a unique way. Since natural play spaces are in short supply, playful pathways are a great way to create play areas where children can discover the wonders of nature.
Encourage Multigenerational Play
There is a lot of research about adults using trails. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much study into how children use trails. But we know children are always seeking ways to engage with their parents.
Since adults have an affinity for trails, they are likely to explore pathways with children. When you create a Play Trail, you combine experiences both children and adults enjoy.
Connect Your Community With Trails
Trail-based play and activity is a growing trend across America. It helps people of all ages experience the outdoors in an innovative and fun way. When you bring playful pathways to your community, you connect families to one another and with nature.
Contact us if you’re ready to create a trail in your community that provides significant developmental benefits for children. Together, we can plan a path to more fun and physical activity for everyone.