Finding enough room for kids to engage in active play isn’t hard when you have a playground nearby. Young kids need the ability to run, skip and climb to their heart’s content, and you’ll likely find that they naturally gravitate towards the equipment that builds skills that they are currently developing. Exploring the many ways that playing outside enhances a kid’s motor skills gives you more insight into how to plan the perfect playground.
Strengthen Muscles and Bones
Kids need to have strong muscles and bones that respond to their movements. At the playground, kids engage in activities that they might not be able to do at home. Making their way up a climbing wall engages their leg muscles in new ways that make them stronger. Swinging on a commercial swing set builds their arms, abs and back strength so that they can move with greater precision.
Encourage Body Awareness
Being able to kick a ball or reach for a rung on a ladder requires the ability to understand how all of your body parts work together. Young children need to have lots of sensory experiences that teach them how their body fits in the world. Spinning on a merry-go-round and rocking back and forth on a spring rider are experiences that stimulate parts of the brain that are responsible for spatial and body awareness.
Help Them Develop Coordination
If you’ve ever watched a toddler trying to navigate stairs for the first time, then you already have an idea of how hard kids have to work on learning how to coordinate their movements. Ladders and climbing nets at the park are perfect for helping kids learn how to move their arms and legs just right to make their way up or down the structure. Kids can also practice throwing and kicking balls out on the field with their friends.
Build Their Balance
Commercial playground equipment is getting better all the time, and outdoor playgrounds have exciting new features that help kids learn how to balance. For example, our rolling logs structure challenges kids to try to walk across a line of rotating logs. As kids develop their balance, they are better able to work on their other motor skills such as jumping from one piece of equipment to another.
Support Fine Motor Development
Fine motor skills might not be the first things that come to your mind when you picture kids playing outside, but kids also get the chance to develop their ability to grasp and pinch objects. Children have to hold on tight to monkey bars or the chains on a swing. You can also buy playground equipment online that have moving picture blocks, instruments and gear panels that encourage kids to make small movements with their hands.
The best playgrounds have a variety of pieces of equipment that target specific motor skills. As you work with your playground designer, remember to mix it up. Spinners, swings and climbing structures all work together to give kids a wide open space that is filled with activities that help them learn how to run faster and kick harder.