Children love to play at playgrounds. It is a great place for them to let them imagination run free, socialize, exercise, and just have fun. However, have you ever wondered about the physical growth benefits of playgrounds? These play havens are highly beneficial to the physical development of young children as they boost balance, coordination, and gross motor skills.
The Importance of Balance and Coordination
Balance is the ability to maintain a stable posture or position at will. Walking, sitting, and running are all tasks that require balance. There are two kinds of balance: static and dynamic. Static balance is the ability to stay in position during motor tasks, like running or climbing. Dynamic balance is the ability to stay in position during stationary tasks like standing or sitting.
Meanwhile, coordination is the ability to use different parts of the body simultaneously and smoothly. For example, hand-eye coordination is required to catch a ball as a child needs to accurately process visual information about the ball’s trajectory and move their hands into the correct position to catch the ball. Writing is another task that requires good hand-eye coordination.
The Importance of Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor skills are the ability to use the large muscles in the arms, legs, and muscles to carry out whole-body activities. Some examples of such activities are walking, running, jumping, or climbing. As you can see, gross motor skills are crucial in carrying out day-to-day activities.
How do playgrounds boost the development of these essential physical skills?
They serve as an environment that facilitates and encourages the practice of these skills. They challenge young children to use these skills in a more high-level way than they usually do in regular daily activities.
- Monkey Bars: When young children swing across monkey bars with their arms, they are practicing gross skills. At the same time, they practice coordination because they need to grab onto a rung with one hand while reaching for a rung with another hand, alternating their hands as they go and always making sure that at least one hand is holding onto a rung. They make use of hand-eye coordination as well because they need to process visual information about the location of the monkey bar rungs and move their hand to grab a rung at a suitable distance from them.
- Playground ladders: Ladders require young children to tap on their gross motor skills when they move their arms and legs to climb, their coordination when they alternate the movement in each of their limbs while climbing upwards, and their balance as their maintain an upright posture while they climb. Naturally, this activity requires hand-eye coordination as well because the child must interpret visual information about the location of the ladder rungs and move their hands to hold onto the rungs.
- Swings: Everyone who has ever used a swing knows that it requires coordination. It is difficult to teach a child how to swing. It is something that children learn on their own. After some experimentation, they will figure out that they need to tuck their legs in and lean forward when swinging forwards and stretch their legs out and lean backward when swinging backwards. This is wonderful for helping them to develop good coordination as they need to figure it out for themselves through trial and error before they can get the hang of it.
These are just some playground facilities that boost the balance, coordination, and gross motor skills of young children. Now, are you convinced of the physical growth benefits of playgrounds?