Even with lockdown restrictions in place in many places playgrounds have reopened, and at anytime, in the summer, heading to the park is often a simple trip that many kids enjoy. But those trips offer your child more than you might realize.
Playground equipment may look simple, but it provides many sensory, gross motor, and even fine motor benefits. Here are some fun, simple ways you can use the playground to benefit your child and have fun at the same time.
1. Build body strength and coordination: Monkey bars
Have you tried the monkey bars recently? They aren’t as easy as they look!
Not only does the task require upper body strength, but it also involves timing, sequencing, and coordination.
2. Provide sensory input and build frustration tolerance: Swings
Swinging is one of the most basic, yet beneficial activities.
It provides vestibular (movement) sensory input, which contributes to overall posture, core muscle strength, and balance skills.
It also involves coordination, as children learn how to pump their legs and swing higher.
Like any new task, this takes time to learn, but the practice is beneficial for developing your child’s frustration tolerance.
3. Help with handwriting and endurance: Climbing
Climbing is another wonderful activity for children of all ages. It provides proprioceptive sensory input, which helps a child understand the position of his body, relative to the environment.
Climbing may even help your child with his or her handwriting, as it increases hand and upper body strength.
This increased strength and endurance can lead to improved fine motor skills.
4. Develop individual interests and talents: Play tasks
If your child is hesitant to engage on playground equipment, try to engage him in a play task. Be creative and capitalize on your child’s interests!
For example, if they enjoy superheroes, you might pretend you are specific superheroes and must save the world by navigating various obstacles. If your child likes animals, you could pretend you are certain animals going on an adventure.
5. Increase confidence and help motor planning: Modeling new activities
If your child is hesitant about trying a new piece of equipment, try it yourself!
When kids are able to watch first, this builds their confidence and helps with motor planning (the process of conceiving, organizing, and carrying out a new or novel task).
If they continue to have difficulty, try to break the activity down into individual steps for them.
6. Create lasting memories: Spending quality time
Playgrounds are also a great way for you to interact and play with your kids. When was the last time you sat on a swing beside your child, walked across the stepping stones behind them, or played tag?
Spending this time, engaging in play with your child, is perhaps the greatest benefit playground equipment can offer.
You will create lasting memories with your child, and you might even improve your own motor skills while you’re at it!