How Playgrounds and Playground Equipment Enrich Childhood
Since the late 1970s, children have lost 12 hours of free time per week, leading to a 25% decrease in play and a 50% decrease in unstructured outdoor activities. This free time was replaced with more homework due to the increasing academic pressure many schools are under. These statistics are alarming, considering playgrounds help children learn and grow.
Read on and learn how playground equipment and well-designed playgrounds help children play more frequently and achieve better health and wellbeing.
Straight A’s and Playground Equipment
Children are at their highest state of learning when playing outdoors. That makes playgrounds an essential part of a child’s life and instrumental to learning and development.
A landmark study put play and learning to the test by comparing a group of first graders. The first group took part in experimental learning combined with play, and the second group was placed in a traditional learning setting. At the end of the learning sessions, a teacher administered the same test to both groups. The test scores reflected that the children in the experimental group scored higher on average in comparison to the control group.
Many traditional schools treat recess as a privilege for children when they complete all their schoolwork. This mindset fails to realize the integral role plays in helping children complete schoolwork well in the first place. This is especially true for children with attention deficit disorders. The best learning environments integrate classwork with playful opportunities throughout the day.
The Importance of “Unplugging”
Today’s generation of children is very tech-savvy, which is a great skill to have. After watching a four-year-old downloading an app on their own, many parents find themselves asking themselves “are playgrounds still important?”
While knowing how to locate information online is important, the truth is that the web has limits to its educational capabilities since it doesn’t provide real-world experience. Healthy, well-adjusted children know their way around a computer and know how to engage with the outside world.
Soft skills, such as problem solving, teamwork, and resilience, are some of the most important social developmental milestones for children to meet. The only way for children to practice these skills is to go outside and connect with others face-to-face.
Active Play Leads to a Healthy Body
Another one of the many benefits of playgrounds is how necessary it is for physical development.
Physical exercise also helps prevent childhood obesity and diabetes, a severe health crisis currently plaguing America. Products such as The Stadium are fun, compact ways to make sure children are staying in shape. The Stadium offers a complete obstacle course experience in about 1,200 square feet.
Playgrounds give children opportunities to be more active while they play and enhances many areas of physical health:
- Balance and Flexibility
- Fine and Gross Motor Skills
- Movement control
- Heart and lung health
- Core and muscle strength
Playgrounds Help Children Face and Conquer Fear
When you ask someone, “how do playgrounds help children,” they often respond with the physical benefits. While the physical benefits are essential, playgrounds offer opportunities for social and emotional learning as well.
Playgrounds are a great way for children to learn social norms such as healthy interaction, taking turns, and collaborating with others. These are important skills that children will use for the rest of their lives.
Free play helps children develop self-confidence and trust their instincts. When children encounter something new, their first reaction is often fear. This also applies to new playground equipment at a park they have never visited before.
When the child sees the other kids having fun with this foreign equipment, they start to overcome that initial fear and start experimenting with their approach. This is a valuable experience for the emotional development of children. Fear is a complex emotion to process, but a child will become confident in their ability to navigate these feelings through healthy, repeated exposure.
Social Skill Development on the Playground
Some children are more timid than others and are not quick to socialize on the playground- and that’s okay! Solitary play is as important as play for the social butterflies.
Playing alone gives children time to process their environment. They now have time to internalize, think, explore, and create on their own time. Solitary play is great for exercising the imagination and becoming self-sufficient.
Products such as GameTime’s Rotogen Piano panel and other interactive activities are perfect for solo play as children acclimate to the play environment. As a bonus - our rotogen products are human-powered play products that never need batteries.
Grow Through Play
Playground equipment helps children grow in all areas of life. It reduces screen and gets kids outside, improves academic performance in school, enhances social skills, and helps children meet essential physical and emotional developmental milestones. Contact a GameTime representative today to start planning a playground that helps children learn lessons that last a lifetime.