Playgrounds are staples of communities, parks and schools worldwide, providing space for kids and families to gather and enjoy having fun outdoors. Kids love playing on playgrounds, where they can swing, slide, climb and make-believe to their hearts’ content. Playground time might be the best time of day for the children in your community.
Playgrounds are endless fun, and they also offer experiences that help kids grow in meaningful ways. Kids might not understand the developmental importance of play — all they know is that play is exhilarating. Find out why children love playgrounds and the vast benefits of play for kids.
The Benefits of Play for Children
Kids gain a lot from playing, through sliding and swinging to creating make-believe worlds all their own. Play is second-nature to children — it’s just plain fun. Yet there are many more benefits of play besides the opportunity for kids to entertain themselves.
Recent research has backed the importance of play for children, citing many benefits in physical, cognitive and emotional development. Here are the top reasons why outdoor play is so good for kids:
1. Development of Motor Skills
Play develops a child’s gross and fine motor skills, an essential set of abilities that increases their physical strength and helps them navigate the world. Gross motor skills utilize bigger muscle groups to jump, climb and swing. Fine motor skills strengthen the connection between the brain and the eyes, hands, feet and limbs. Kids need these skills to engage in sports and everyday activities.
Purposeful play builds dexterity and helps kids figure out how to move their bodies to perform specific actions. One study found that young children’s motor skills significantly improved when they accomplished the same goal-oriented movements, like walking on a balance beam, carrying sticks and jumping. Outdoor playgrounds encourage all of these activities and provide challenges that help kids learn to control their movements in the space around them.
2. Enhanced Social Skills
Interacting with other kids through play is an excellent way to build critical social skills. Play without direct adult interaction encourages kids to talk, share ideas and solve problems through communication. Developing these abilities helps kids empathize, collaborate and lead with confidence.
- Understanding social cues
- Conflict resolution
By navigating situations where they need to share or take turns, kids learn to follow the rules and treat each other kindly. It’s crucial for children to learn healthy social habits early on. Being well-socialized enables kids to make friends, do well in school and have better advanced social skill development later in life.
3. Active Lifestyle
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19.3% of American children aged 2 to 19 are obese. Many factors contribute to childhood obesity, including a sedentary lifestyle. Physical activity is vital for a child’s health and is linked to benefits like improved cardiovascular health, mood, sleep and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Activity is essential for childhood development. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that children ages 1 to 4 need at least three hours of activity every day, and even infants should be active as often as possible. Further, the CDC recommends one hour of activity daily for children between 6 and 17.
Physical activity habits encourage child development and can lead to benefits over an entire lifetime. It’s essential that kids develop a love of physical activity through play while they’re young.
4. Improved Cognitive Function
Play also benefits the brain. Kids judge distances, count, build and figure out solutions to real and imaginary challenges while they play. Whether it’s making their way to the top of a rope wall or balancing on a log roller, playground play teaches problem-solving and critical thinking.
Psychology Today notes that play can also impact academic performance. Play makes new neural connections in the brain, improving a child’s memory, thinking and learning. Short play breaks during the day can help kids refocus when they get back to class, increasing their ability to self-regulate and absorb information.
A study of toddlers demonstrated that those with a preference for active play displayed improved neurological development. Toddlers who played more were more typically developed than those who avoided play. Encouraging kids to play significantly impacts their cognitive development from a young age.
5. Increased Creativity
Boundless creativity is one of the wonders of childhood. A kid’s imagination is limitless, creating make-believe worlds and stories out of thin air. If you’ve ever seen kids pretend a slide was a portal to another world or hop between rocks because the ground was lava, you understand the creativity playgrounds can inspire.
On the playground, kids are free to create their own games and roles to play out, expanding their minds through exploration. One of the most significant playground benefits is free play. Free play is one of the types of play without structure, guidelines or rules. Through unstructured free play, kids self-direct and take the initiative in how they spend their time. The freedom to be creative helps kids think outside the box and opens them to new possibilities for play.
7. Reduced Stress
Stress is a part of regular life for kids as well as adults. Several issues can cause stress for children, including problems with friends, grades and bullying. Kids carry stress from school home with them and vice versa, and they need healthy ways to cope with it.
The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends engaging in physical activity, spending time outside and having fun is some of the best stress management strategies for kids, all of which can be done on outdoor playgrounds. Kids should engage in the recommended amount of physical activity for their age group and have the freedom to play in whatever way that appeals to them. Even spending 20 minutes outdoors can reduce stress hormones, so the playground is a great place to be.
Why Children Love Playgrounds
For many kids, recess or a trip to the playground is their favorite part of the day. While on the playground, kids get to spend their energy, make-believe and have fun. There’s something freeing about getting out onto a playground and just being a kid.
Check out a few reasons why children love playgrounds:
1. Playgrounds Encourage Kids’ Imaginations
Outdoor playgrounds come in all kinds of styles and themes, with a wide variety of structures and elements to stir kids’ imaginations. The playground environment comes free of imposed plots, characters and stories. Instead, kids are empowered to be and do whatever they want, so they push themselves to explore new situations and revel in complete creative freedom.
Kids don’t need much to use their imaginations. A simple tube slide could be a rocket launch to another planet. But themed playgrounds are an excellent launchpad for kids’ imaginations. Whether a pirate ship climber or a bouncing castle drawbridge, themed elements can provide an all-new space for kids to create new worlds and possibilities.
2. Kids Get to Use Their Energy
One of the best play and recess benefits is the opportunity for kids to exercise and be active. Children often sit for hours at school, doing extracurricular activities and even at home. Especially when kids are young, all that pent-up energy needs to go somewhere. One of the best outlets for spending stifled energy is recess time or a playdate on the playground.
Many children could spend hours at the playground, moving from equipment to equipment and never getting bored. Playing is an outlet for enjoying the rush of physical activity and even improving focus. If kids struggle to sit still or finish schoolwork, they might need to use physical energy to swing or climb at the playground.
3. Playgrounds Allow Kids to Take Risks
Taking risks in a controlled, protected environment can help kids grow in many ways. Risky play is like an experiment, assisting children in identifying their boundaries and pushing themselves farther than they thought they could go. Many adventurous children love risk, and the playground gives them a secure environment for controlled risk-taking.
Playground play should always be supervised, but kids also need the freedom to take calculated chances. Elements like balance beams and zip lines teach kids to determine what’s comfortable and enjoyable and be courageous. Kids who fear a piece of playground element can use trial and error to learn how to move their bodies and become more resilient.
4. Kids Love Independence
The playground provides an environment where kids direct how they spend their time. Although there should always be an adult supervising play, for the most part, unstructured play allows kids to spend their time independently.
Whether playing in a group or enjoying time by themselves, each child determines what they do. On a playground, children get to decide what equipment they play on. They get to make up games and stories, choosing what happens and how they respond. A greater level of independence on the playground teaches kids responsibility and helps them learn that their actions have consequences.
5. Playgrounds Boost Confidence
Children need to try new things to increase their confidence. Kids prove their strength to themselves when they overcome obstacles, and the playground is an excellent environment in which to do it.
A lot of playground equipment provides a physical challenge for kids. Crossing a moving bridge or hanging from a horizontal loop ladder can seem daunting at first. When kids successfully tackle a higher slide or challenging elements like a rope bridge, they get a huge confidence boost. Kids also build resilience by entering unfamiliar situations, like a playground full of kids they’ve never met. Many children love the opportunity to push themselves and reach new heights.
6. Kids Enjoy New Experiences
Many children love to experience new sights and situations. It can be fun to go somewhere they’ve never been before and generally try new things. These experiences encourage kids to think outside the box and expose them to situations where they need to adapt.
Outdoor playgrounds provide a wealth of sensory input for young minds, from the sounds of birdsong and rustling trees to the smells of freshly-turned mulch and dandelions. Playgrounds engage all the senses and teach kids to observe the world. Unfamiliar playground equipment also helps kids address new challenges.
7. Playgrounds Offer More Social Interactions
Children are great at making new friends. Often, simple interactions like passing another kid on the school bus can spark a friendship. Community and school playgrounds are places where friendships can begin and develop.
Many kids love to meet new people at the playground or spend time with school friends for a playdate. Playing with one or two other kids or in a larger group introduces children to new social situations and challenges to work through together. Some essential benefits of playground social interactions include the opportunity to learn diplomacy, cooperation and leadership. Without knowing it, kids learn how to create a better society through their interactions on the playground.
Playworld Playground Equipment
Playgrounds make a huge difference in communities and children’s lives. That’s why at Playworld, we’re committed to designing playgrounds that bring communities together and help kids make memories to last a lifetime. Our playgrounds enrich children’s lives through outdoor, unstructured play that stimulates their physical, emotional and social growth while providing endless fun.
We create playground equipment for all ages and abilities, using high-quality craftsmanship and innovation to enrich kids through play. Check out some of our playground and fitness equipment to learn more about how our products inspire and benefit kids:
Early Childhood Playground Equipment
Kids ages 5 and under are just beginning to develop their fine and gross motor skills, balance, independence and confidence. A playground is a perfect place for children to explore the world around them.
At Playworld, we offer preconfigured playground sets, components and freestanding pieces to suit the needs of the kids you serve. Our early childhood and preschool playground equipment engages even the youngest kids in your community to help them get a head start on important development. The PlayTown™ series is specially designed for little ones of all abilities, offering elements like the Playhouse and Silly Tree where kids can try new things or quietly enjoy the outdoors.
School-Age Playground Equipment
As kids grow and develop different preferences for play, their playground equipment should change with them. School-age kids can benefit from playgrounds that offer more physical challenges, encourage relationships, boost brain power and help them reach new heights.
For kids ages 5 to 12, consider school-age playground equipment from Playworld. We understand that kids in this age range can enjoy the benefits of play like social and cognitive development, so we strive to provide playground equipment that helps kids grow. Our Overhead Ladder with Parallel Bars challenges kids to use their upper body strength to carry them across. The Cone Spinner engages kids in motion play, helping develop their spatial awareness.
Fitness and Wellness Equipment
A love for fitness and physical activity starts at a young age. Prioritizing wellness for kids can help your community stay well and continue healthy habits throughout adulthood.
Playworld’s outdoor fitness and wellness equipment includes permanent structures that help kids and adults burn calories and strengthen their muscles using their body weight. The ENERGI® outdoor fitness systems are great for kids ages 13 and up. Middle school PE classes can include these systems for an effective workout. Other fitness equipment includes Stretch & Go products that improve flexibility and muscle control.
Contact Us Today
Children love playgrounds for many reasons, and the benefits of play abound. Play fosters social, emotional and physical growth and encourages kids to get creative, include others and have fun. Children’s playgrounds should foster an atmosphere of growth and imagination through high-quality equipment that kids will love.
At Playworld, our mission is to bring play to communities in a way that’s accessible to all. We’ve been designing innovative playground structures for decades, fostering hope through play and expert manufacturing. We’re here to expand your community’s possibilities. Contact us for more information about our playground systems or to request a quote!