Do you remember your childhood? How you used to go out and spend almost the entire day on the playground? That is the same thing that your kids long for. The happiness on their face every time they go out shows how much children enjoy playtime and friendship. In most cases, community and school playgrounds form the foundation of friendships that last for many years. Other than long-lasting friendships, there are lots of other reasons why kids need playgrounds.
Why do kids need a playground? A playground is essential for children to develop the social, emotional, and creative thinking skills they will need when they become adults. It allows them to interact with the environment and other kids in their community for fun. Playgrounds provide them with a perfect chance to explore different ideas, which helps them test their boundaries and develop.
Play is so critical for child development such that the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights recognizes it as a fundamental right for every child in the world.
In this post, we discuss some of the critical reasons kids need a playground and its role in their development. Read on to find out everything that you need to know.
Understanding the True Meaning of Play
We are living in strange times where almost everything is going digital. Our lives are quite unpredictable, and many families around the world are living “non-stop lifestyles.” Children are surrounded by many temptations that can easily lure them away from physical play.
Computer games, television, and powerful smartphones have captured the attention of many kids.
Sadly, many parents are okay with it and never bother about taking their little ones out for play. In fact, advertisers are increasingly reaching out to younger kids in an effort to convince them or their parents to purchase more electronic gadgets.
In this increasingly familiar push for children to have more and more screen time, parents and caregivers neglect one of the most critical elements of child development; physical play.
So, what is physical play, and why is it crucial? Child development experts define play as “any organized or spontaneous activity that offers enjoyment, amusement, diversion, or entertainment.” While all play is valuable in a kid’s life, the free and unstructured play witnessed at playgrounds is the most important.
Such play allows children to learn how to be independent and make sound decisions that can help them achieve desired results.
An internal monologue of a child at a playground may be something like, “Should I go down that slide? It looks steep and feels scary but I’ll try.” The moment the child decides to go down the slide, he/she will be learning the basics of many critical skills that they will need later in life.
In fact, it is almost impossible to overstate the importance of physical play in the process of child development.
Why Do Kids Need a Playground?
Now that you understand what physical play is all about, let us discuss some of the critical reasons children need a playground. Remember that if you don’t take your little ones out for play, they have an iPad to replace the playground.
However, if they experience the magic of a playground at least once, you will witness an incredible shift in their love for playgrounds.
Here are some of the top reasons why kids need a playground:
1. Playgrounds offer physical and emotional benefits
Ask your kids why they love to jump, climb, run, and you will most probably get this answer; “because it is fun.”
Although outdoor play is fun, it offers much more than fun. Outdoor play is necessary for the physical development of your little ones. It helps to improve their balancing, flexibility, and motor skills.
Spending time at a playground helps them learn how to trust their instincts and control their movement. Physical exercise also improves the function of their internal body organs such as the lungs and the heart. This helps to reduce the risk of developing obesity or diabetes.
Other than physical development, playgrounds also offer a wide range of emotional benefits. Free play at a playground helps kids to develop self-confidence. They form friendships with their peers that help them learn how to deal with different challenges in life.
For instance, when kids encounter an obstacle at a playground, they may be afraid to deal with it first. However, when they see other kids dealing with it, they also gain the confidence to do it. Through such acts, kids learn that they can handle any situation in life if they are brave enough.
2. Sharpens perception
Did you know that children tend to develop behaviors based upon senses? They discover their surroundings and how to navigate it through play. Sensory-rich and well-equipped playgrounds allow kids of all abilities to integrate, play together, and develop perception.
Typically, the more children play, the more they develop skills necessary to change, engage, and impact the world around them.
The tactile, visual, and auditory experiences in a playground give kids a clear understanding and appreciation of the environment around them through exploration.
So, encourage your kids with appropriate play activities to sharpen their perception of the world.
3. Promotes positive mental health
Just as life brings lots of emotions for you, playing does the same thing for children, especially in a playground where they interact with other children and encounter many challenges.
Constant play activates the parts of the central nervous system which regulate emotions. This helps kids to manage their feelings and emotions better.
Playgrounds are exciting places for your young ones. Running around, swinging, sliding, shouting at the top of their voices, twirling, and climbing stimulate their thinking leading to positive mental health.
The physical play takes them into a state of joy, which delights the kid and makes him/her feel better. A few times, the kids may be faced with a challenge making them angry or scared, but they still need to find a way out.
Throughout their stay at the playground, children feel many things that allow them to learn, control, and regulate both positive and negative emotions. This is important for their long-term emotional health development.
4. Playgrounds offer the perfect off-screen entertainment
Figure this out. You purchase a new smartphone, and you still can’t figure out how to use it, but your kid accesses the App Store immediately, downloads a few games, and starts to play them right away.
Within no time, the kid is addicted to the smartphone, and you cannot even take it away from him/her. There is no doubt that modern kids are tech-savvy and always want to spend time in front of screens.
However, you must always keep in mind that apps and video games won’t teach your young ones everything they need to know. In fact, television, smartphones, and computer games don’t provide them with real-world experience.
Before you know it, the kid will be in college, ordering their assignment about their childhood from content mills because they have no idea how to write it. We are not trying to refute the fact that technology is important in your child’s life. But, you need to regulate it and teach your little one how to survive without it.
Keep in mind that technology doesn’t necessarily make your little one smarter. He/she needs real-world experiences to complement digital knowledge. So, taking your kid out for play at a playground provides him/her with a perfect opportunity to experience something new and forget about the video games.
5. Builds self-esteem and fosters creative thinking
Overcoming playground challenges helps kids to develop a sense of pride, accomplishment, and self-esteem. Confidence doesn’t come from classroom achievement only. It also comes from smaller achievements made at the playground during playtime.
The playground achievements range from winning competitions to resolving conflicts that may arise during playtime. As long as playground equipment is safe and risk-free, children are encouraged to take risks and put their imaginative/creative skills to use.
With time, they learn how to start thinking outside the box, which is a significant asset in the modern world. When kids feel empowered to do whatever they imagine, it encourages them to develop tricky situations where creativity pushes them to improve their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
6. Playgrounds make parents, too
Throughout this post, we have discussed how playgrounds benefit your precious little ones, but, at the end of the day, happy children make happy parents. If you see your young ones having fun, enjoying themselves, and getting developmental benefits, it is truly worth it.
Meeting other parents and caregivers at the playground can be a significant social bonus since there are lots to share as you watch the kids play and have fun together. You get to know each other and even form long-lasting family relationships.
Playgrounds play an integral role in your kids’ development. By taking them out and encouraging them to engage in physical play, you help them learn vital skills that they will need as adults.
You teach them how to think critically, develop relationships with other people, develop leadership skills, understand societal norms, solve problems, and appreciate challenges.
In simple words, you are helping them grow into responsible adults you hope for. Furthermore, playing outside is a lot more fun, and every child deserves it.
So, if you have not started taking your children outside for play, you need to start doing so as soon as possible.
Let us know if you have any queries, comments, or suggestions in the comments section below.