This post sharing 5 playground benefits was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time outside. Whenever I had the chance to go to a park, I took it. Back then, parks consisted of swings, a single slide, and monkey bars. If we were lucky, there were two slides – a straight one and a twisty slide. While there are always playground benefits, the ones we used to have were somewhat limited.
Flash forward to the playgrounds my kids play on today. They barely resemble my elementary school playground (on an asphalt surface, mind you). My elementary school just built a brand new playground last year to replace the aging wood structure that lacked accessibility and limited the number of children able to play on the structure at one time.
We partnered with Landscape Structures to build our new playground, and the end product blew me away. It was nothing like what I’d imagined going into the process. The amount of space the play structure covered wasn’t much greater than the old playground, but the variety of equipment and multiple heights made it seem like a much larger footprint.
Needless to say, this playground is a hotbed of activity whether school is in session or not. No matter what day we go to play there, we find plenty of company enjoying the playground. In fact, my kids love to have playdates at the park – and that makes me happy.
Granted, this playground’s initial designed aimed at our kindergarten to second grade students. Once installation finished, the older kids begged to play there, too. Now the primary playground rotates each week – and my middle school age kids love to come play, too. It’s possible I’ve been known to go hang out on the playground and play, too.
Even when I sit and watch, the lessons I see all the kids learning from their playground amaze me. There really are playground benefits that help kids develop skills they need throughout life. You can find your own Landscape Structures playground, and check out the fun for yourself.
5 Playground Benefits: Life Lessons Your Kids Learn
Cooperation is key
Many of the games kids want to play involve compromise. Woodchips (don’t ask) is a huge game by us, bu no one can play without kids working together to set up the rules. Many parts of the playground require cooperation, too. Unless one child (or parent) will push the merry go round, it goes nowhere. Likewise, kids have to decide which way it should go. I’ve seen kids want to push it both ways at the same time, but until they ironed out their differences, the merry go round sat unmoving.
Perseverance is paramount
I remember the first time Little Miss tried to do the monkey bars. She fell after the first one. Having seen other kids successfully cross, she got up and tried again and again until she swung across like … a monkey. This is by far my favorite of the playground benefits because I see far too many people who don’t want to try or who give up after their first attempt. Learning that failure is just temporary and trying again leads to success – I couldn’t ask for more.
If you fall down, no one cares. Playgrounds have soft surfaces to minimize injury (thinking back to my asphalt covered playground again), and most tumbles happen near the ground. The only thing injured tends to be pride, and with so much activity, kids brush that off and keep going.
With no instructions, kids get creative
The playground structure we have now at our school offers plenty of challenges and different ways to tackle the equipment. While my daughter insists she can balance on the hammock, other children prefer the challenge of simply sitting on it while rocking back and forth. As long as children play safely on the equipment, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the various components. For example, I don’t let anyone climb on top of parts of the structure, but if my daughter wishes to slide down the “running wall” as kids named this hill, she’s more than welcome to do so.
I watch kids play regularly, and often the games are so creative that unless I heard them develop the rules (more cooperation), I can’t figure out what they’re playing. I love the creativity, and heading to the playground benefits my kids by encouraging it.
Kids build core strength without knowing it
At two, I remember taking my son to a birthday party where he tried to cross the bridge at the gymnastics center and lacked the core strength to walk across an unstable surface. Fast forward to today where he’s working on his pull ups at tae kwon do and does great pushups and planks. And of course, he climbs the rope ladders with ease.
The components in today’s playgrounds tend to be designed to move and sway. That includes the aforementioned rope ladders, as well as various steps and other pieces. When the playground equipment moves, kids have to use their cores to stabilize themselves – and that builds muscle. They don’t even know about some of these playground benefits, thinking they’re just playing. In fact, our PE teachers now use the new playground as part of the class curriculum because it offers so many opportunities to build strength, flexibility, and more.
Everyone has to take turns
Oh this is such a hard life lesson. No matter your age, no one enjoys delayed gratification. No one wants to wait to have fun. The playground offers a great opportunity for kids to learn to take turns. Only so many kids can be on the monkey bars at once. Only one child can go down the slide at a time. The same holds true for the fireman’s pole, the bouncy steps, and so much more. The patience kids develop from having to wait – even if only for a few seconds – helps in so many aspects of life. Fortunately with the new playground style, the variety of offerings means kids don’t have to wait long!
When was the last time you visited a playground? Am I missing other playground benefits?