I was browsing through instagram a while ago and saw this great photo (above) of my friends’ son playing. It immediately reminded me (not that I needed much reminding) why I love playgrounds for kids!
Besides just giving kids the opportunity to run around, play and explore, when I am working with a kiddo at a playground I am almost never at a loss for things to do. Depending on their age and skill level, here are just a few things you can do with kids at a playground:
- Climbing – There is climbing for all ages (even the non walkers). You can use stairs to go up and down, although on a play structure its always easier to get kids to go up, much harder to convince them not to go down the slide! Stairs can be crawled on or walked on. For the walkers there are generally railings that allow early walkers to practice with some stability or for the more advanced they can try it without hands! There are also almost always an array of ladders to climb. What’s great about playground ladders is they come in all shapes and sizes. There are standard ladders, there are twisty ones, there are rope nets, even ones I like to call rainbow ladders. With this large variety kids get a chance to practice their motor planning and problem solving with regards to navigating the ladder. To summarize, climbing is great for glut (tush muscles) and core strengthening, working on reciprocal movements and motor planning/coordination.
- Monkey Bars – Monkey bars or even the bar above the slide (like in the picture above) are great for hanging on! Kids can work on their shoulder/shoulder blade strength and stability – which help improve their fine motor skills, as well as their core strength. When they begin to traverse monkey bars they learn how to generate momentum and movement while maintaining stability. It also gives kids an opportunity to play around with different grips and get immediate feedback for strength and control. Lastly, kids can play with acrobatics and hang upside down and pull themselves up so they are sitting on the bars. All of this helps body awareness, problem solving, coordination, etc.
- Swings – Swings are not only fun, they let your child increase their vestibular input, work on the coordination of their legs and trunk moving to keep the swinging motion going, and core strength. Not only are kids excited when they learn how to make themselves swing, but it also means less time for you to stand around and push them! In addition, just learning how to get onto the swing by themselves takes balance, coordination and problem solving. For the little kiddos being pushed in the swing, they are getting opportunities to work on head control and trunk control during movement.
What are your favorite things about playground play?