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Friday, July 12, 2019

How the Playground Benefits Every Aspect of Child Development

Photo by dadblunders (Flickr)

Is there a nice playground in your neighborhood? I hope so, since they have absolutely incredible benefits for child development and the community at large. My girls and I love to visit the local playground, whether it's to use the equipment, play on the grass, or meet up with friends. Playgrounds have a ton of benefits: Take a look at these and see if any of them surprise you. Did I leave anything out? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Increased Motor Skills

Most play equipment is designed to help children improve their physical fitness and their motor skills. Running, sliding, jumping, and swinging all help children increase their coordination, balance, and strength. Best of all, couch potato kids usually don't complain about exercise when they're playing. They're too busy having fun! So if you have a little one reluctant to play in gym class, a trip to the playground might be a great solution to improving their motor skills.

Taking in Fresh Air

Most playgrounds are outdoors, so kids on the playground are soaking in all of the benefits of fresh air. Kids get much-needed vitamin D when they're out in the sunlight as well as a chance to breathe fresh air and feel invigorated. This is why recess is such a needed break from the school day. Being outside has positive effects on physical health as well as overall mood. (Just don't forget the sunblock!) And extra time outside playing can also help tucker out your over-energized young ones who aren't a fan of bedtime.

Improved Social Skills

For young children, so many friendships are formed on the playground. It gives children a space for freedom to interact and play cooperatively with each other. Whether they're out on the playground during the school day or visiting the local public playground, there are often new faces and a chance to meet new friends. Children feel that they can interact with each other more freely on the playground, giving them a chance to work on their social skills, share with others, and teach each other new games.

Braver Kids

This might give the supervising adults gray hairs, but children taking risks on the playground can be a good thing. Shy children might come out of their shell in interactions with others. Children can feel encouraged to take on challenges that their friends are doing, like using the monkey bars or climbing higher on the jungle gym. Kids can practice deciding what risks are OK to take when they're on the playground, and although its nerve-wracking for us to watch, it's an important life skill for them to learn.

Imaginations Run Wild

The playground sparks the imagination. Ask your kids what game they were playing on the playground and you might get some elaborate answers. They might tell you the slide was a castle, the merry-go-round was over a lava pit, or the swing set was a space station. Play equipment can be simple, but it can form a wild imaginative landscape in the eyes of children. That's always a mental muscle I'll encourage my girls to flex.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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