Play is essential to a developing child’s life. Through play, children hit so many milestones, whether physically, socially, emotionally or cognitively.
As a child, you may have been able to head to your local playground on your own. You might have gone every day right after school or after your homework was finished until dinnertime or dusk. While societal rules have changed — since parents now almost always accompany their children to the playground — the need for the playground experience in a child’s life hasn’t.
Community playgrounds offer a wide variety of benefits, and they’re at the heart of every community. Playgrounds provide children with new experiences and opportunities to develop. The hidden benefits of taking your kids to the playground are seemingly endless, but you can read just some of them below.
They Get Physical Exercise
What better way to be physically active than through play at a playground? Your child likely isn’t aware that they’re “exercising” since they’ll be running around, swinging or sliding. American childhood obesity is a serious issue, but it can be tackled by allowing your child to spend time at a playground at least a few times every week.
You as a parent also benefit from playgrounds in this way. If you have a younger child, you’re likely running around just to keep your eyes on them! If you have an older child, you might allow them to play while you take a few laps around the playground.
They Interact with Other Kids
Playgrounds are excellent for your child to build social skills. Likely, your child isn’t the only one at the park. Plenty of other kids are there for your child to interact with, which allows them to learn to play with others, listen and learn social norms.
The social network is complex, but when your child has the opportunity to interact with other kids of similar ages, it’s easier than talking to adults all the time.
They Build Confidence
For every piece of play equipment on the playground, there is a level of confidence your child needs in order to overcome it. They have to build up their confidence if they want to try new things, like the monkey bars, a rock wall or even going down a slide by themselves for the first time.
These activities may be challenging at first, but once your child accomplishes them, their confidence and self-esteem boost. Having confidence will be a crucial skill as they maneuver through life, like when they try out for a sports team or try to get a job.
They Experience Various Emotions
If you’ve taken your child to the playground at least once, you know this one is true. As you arrive at the park, there is anticipation and excitement in your child’s eyes. They get out of the car and run to the first swing. After a little while, they might trip and fall, causing frustration and maybe tears. Then, they begin to get tired but resist going home.
As you put them back in the car, they might be angry that you had to leave. These are just some of the emotions your child experiences at the playground. They’ll also learn about patience, boredom and even scary feelings.
They Can Explore Without Preconceived Rules
At home or school, there’s less room for your child to explore and expand their imagination. While there are safety rules at a playground, nothing stops your child from seeing a slide as a rollercoaster or a swing as an airplane.
Playground equipment helps your child use their imagination and creativity. There are no labels on the equipment saying what it is, so your child can make it into anything!
They Sleep Better
Your child needs to sleep well to function. After a couple of hours swinging, jumping, running, sliding or going on the monkey bars, your child is going to be tired! When they go to bed that night, they’ll be sure to fall fast asleep. Kids who spend more time outdoors often get better sleep.
If your child spends most of their day inside, they aren’t getting the amount of physical activity they would if they were outside. They’ll sleep better throughout the night, even if they’re playing outside for only a short amount of time.
They Grow Closer to You