When adults and children play together, it changes everything. Besides being fun, multi-generational play has been shown to have numerous physical and mental health benefits for adults and children alike.
Now more than ever, families need comfortable, safe spaces to come together and play. They need areas that encourage meaningful interaction and offer access for children and adults of all ages and abilities.
What does a multi-generational playspace look like? And exactly what benefits can it provide to your community? This article gives an in-depth explanation.
Benefits of Intergenerational Connections
Whether you live in a multi-generational household like 20% of the U.S. population or simply make a point to socialize with relatives of other ages, there are numerous benefits to multi-generational play.
Benefits for Children
When children establish connections with older adults — such as a grandparent or trusted family friend — they typically experience:
- Increased self-worth: Interacting with older adults gives children a sense of their own self-worth and builds confidence. It better enables them to stand up to peer pressure at school.
- One-on-one attention: Spending time with a grandparent or close friend gives children the undivided attention they cannot always receive if they live with parents who work long hours or are raising multiple children. Children need focused attention from a caring adult to develop and grow.
- New ideas: Children can learn new ideas and hobbies from older adults in their life, such as painting, fishing and gardening. They may learn more about how to help around the house and take care of their belongings. The ideas, interests and habits a child learns from their grandparents are likely to stick around and inform their worldview as they grow into adults.
Benefits for Parents
Parents also benefit from encouraging multi-generational play and interaction within their families. Parents who encourage this kind of interaction typically experience:
- Increased support: It is tough being a parent. Having the help and support of an older parent or relative can ease the pressure on parents to get it right. In some cases, this may be practical support, such as helping with school carpooling or babysitting. In other cases, it may be more emotional-based support. Having another adult around who can share stories and give advice can ease some of the pressure that comes along with being a parent.
- Comfort: Sometimes you just need to know you are not alone. Parents who encourage multi-generational play and relationships can relax knowing someone else is also looking out for their child’s physical and emotional well-being. In some cases, grandparents may also provide financial assistance to ease the stress parents feel to provide for their children.
Benefits for Older Adults
Establishing and maintaining relationships with the younger members of their family is an important way for older adults to maintain their health and vitality in their later years. When older adults build relationships with the younger adults and children in their families, they typically experience:
- Joy: Many people describe being a grandparent as having all the perks of parenting without the responsibilities. Because they do not have the pressures associated with being the financial provider and primary caregiver, grandparents are free to enjoy time playing with, exploring with and listening to their grandchildren.
- Vitality: Older adults who interact with children typically have better physical health and a lower occurrence of depression. They also report overall higher satisfaction with life.
- Legacy building: Spending time with grandchildren allows older adults to share their lessons and stories along the way. They can teach children new things — and learn a few new concepts, too! — and they have greater confidence that their knowledge and experiences are impacting future generations.
Creating a Multi-Generational Play Area
Multi-generational play is important. It continues to be a growing focus for companies like Playworld because we have seen firsthand what happens when adults and children have a creative, safe space to interact with each other. How do you create a multi-generational play area? A multi-generational playspace should be built around three things:
Whether you are five or 75, it is no secret that movement and exercise are important. But what if there was a way to combine children’s play with the exercise of an adult? In some multi-generational play areas, you will find playground equipment near walking trails and challenge courses adults can use. But that is not all. For some older adults, tackling a fitness course may not be possible, but chasing a grandchild around the playground or pushing a swing is a great way to get moving.
Playgrounds can also be designed for easy navigation, meaning older adults can interact with children and move through the equipment with them to facilitate more intergenerational activities.
Parks and open spaces are a natural place for adults and children to come together. Creating a natural play area provides younger and older generations with a safe place to explore the world around them. A naturalized play environment encourages adults and children to participate and explore, especially when the play equipment is interspersed with beautiful trees, walking trails and other natural elements.
Natural environments also encourage relaxation. When people are more relaxed, they are more likely to connect and share with their family members. This opens the door for older and younger generations to connect in a real and meaningful way.
Approximately 6.6 million children in the U.S. live with a disability. Some have a physical disability, while others live with a cognitive or social-emotional disability. But no matter what a child is facing, they should all have the same opportunities to play and interact in a safe space that encourages development and discovery. This is where inclusive play areas come in.
Inclusive play spaces are about more than just providing access to equipment. A true inclusive play area encourages children of all abilities to interact with the equipment and with each other. Similarly, inclusive play areas are about more people than just children. A true inclusive space will encourage older adults to engage with their younger relatives through meaningful interactions. It will also ensure a trip to the playground is not a stressful experience, but rather a meaningful time of fun and play.
Browse Play Equipment From Playworld for Multi-Generational Play
At Playworld, we are a multi-generational company with a vested interest in creating play areas that encourage children and their adult family members to spend time together. There is nothing we love more than giving a multi-generational family a safe space to play and grow. Ready to update your existing playspace or create something new? Browse playground equipment from Playworld today.