The humble school playground is essential; a rite of passage for many. Friendships are made there; secrets are had, and games played. But did you know that playgrounds are more than just a play area for children? Playgrounds are crucial for children as they help them develop essential life skills, habits, and attitudes they will carry with them throughout their life.
Why should we care about playgrounds?
In recent years, attitudes towards playgrounds have shifted as parents, teachers, and others focus on improving academics above all else. Playgrounds aren’t seen as important and children are spending more time “playing” online games. However, it could be argued that playgrounds have become more important than ever for children as they offer a wealth of benefits that a child cannot get from the classroom or even the technology they bury themselves in. Many forget that playgrounds mean going outside, getting active, and interacting with others, all of which is not possible in the classroom or online.
What are some of the benefits?
Grow young minds and self-confidence
Playgrounds provide children with an environment where they can engage in unstructured play. This enables them to use their imagination, which flows on to help the development of their emotional, social, and creative thinking skills, which are critical for performance in the classroom as well. Using their imagination and “free play”, children can build self-confidence—an essential life skill and one that may be harder to harness in a classroom environment. With “free play”, children may come across a physical obstacle that might frighten them at first, but by seeing other kids tackling these physical obstacles and the enjoyment on their faces, each child experiments with their own approach. This example highlights how important playgrounds are for self-confidence development. Classrooms can create a mental barrier for some children as they feel they may not be able to harness self-confidence in a more formal setting. Playgrounds offer the perfect middle-ground for children to experiment with their self-confidence and reduces any pressure they may feel in a classroom setting.
Understand and develop social skills
Playgrounds are a great environment to help children understand social norms and develop their own social skills. In contrast to a classroom, playgrounds offer the perfect relaxed environment to make a new friend, play with others, and learn what is and is not acceptable. While social skills can be taught in a classroom, learning them, and applying them in the playground is instrumental to their development.
A more obvious benefit of school playgrounds is to encourage physical activity during lunch breaks. While running around the oval at lunch and playing imaginary games in the grass is enjoyable, the addition of structures such as monkey bars, seesaws and slides add another dimension of activity and fun to lunchtime. Outdoor play is so important for the healthy physical development of children and works to improve their flexibility, balance, and motor skills. Playground equipment can help children learn how to control their movements and trust their instincts, all while improving the function of their hearts and lungs to ensure they grow up healthy.
Playgrounds make school and education fun
Schools have a vital role in a child’s learning and development and for many children, learning and play go hand-in-hand. Creating an environment where kids can play, create, relax, and have fun outside the classroom is an important component of any school.
Playgrounds are the lifeblood of a school and provide many benefits to children, the school, and the community around them. With playgrounds at schools, children have a place where they can have fun, create friendships, and learn and develop new skills. If you are looking to build a playground or upgrade your school playground, contact Playground Centre today.