A playground is more than swings, slides and a means to entertain

children. The type of play that happens on a playground represents one

of the more important parts of a child’s development. Playgrounds are

an essential element to the health and development of the mind and


Playgrounds provide opportunities for children to practice a range of

social, emotional, physical and mental skills. By understanding the

benefits of adding stimulating and challenging


playground equipment 
to your playground, you can increase

the value of play.

A well-designed playground entices children to play and teaches key

developmental skills. Playground activities like swinging, climbing and

sliding may appear to be "just fun" on the outside, but

initiate important body systems to develop and function properly.

The movements children perform on a playground build both gross and

fine motor skills, along with core strength. Playground play also

enhances the vestibular system — the sensory system that controls

balance and coordination — and develops better body awareness.

Self-led exploration on sensory play panels help children to further

develop their senses. Our high-touch panels provide multiple ways to

grow cognitive, tactile, sensory/motor, emotional/social and language

skills, and invite children to play with each other and use their


Music Children can explore the power or rhythm, experience subtle

shifts in tone, and discover the many ways individual sounds can be

creatively combined through our collection of chimes, metallophones and


A playground provides the environment needed for children to engage in

elements that develop key cognitive, social and physical skills. How

children play, or their patterns of play, reinforce the importance of

having a mixture of indoor playground equipment that encourages an

assortment of play behaviors.

In our whitepaper, Shaped by Play: How Play Types Impact Development,

we discuss the findings of an observational study by the University of

Minnesota Institute of Child Development that looked at how play spaces

shape a child's development. The study suggests that different

playground components facilitate different patterns of play and

therefore reinforce different developmental skills. In the study, some

components—like the overhead ladders and more complex rope climbers—

seemed to attract older children and facilitate independent gross motor

play. Sometimes children engaged in group games (e.g., tag) or simply

talked to one another as they played (e.g., while swinging side-by-

side). Other times, they participated in collaborative activities like

pushing one another on the swings or working together to spin on the

OmniSpin? Spinner.

Play involving gross motor skills like custom climbers, rope climbers,

overhead ladders, rock areas and slides occupied nearly half of

kids' playground time. These are active play elements and in

contrast to components that are designed to encourage sensory

exploration (e.g., the Smart Play? Motion play structure) or that allow

children to sit while someone else operates the equipment (e.g., the

swings or We-saw?). When children engage in activities that build and

develop gross motor skills they are building upper-body, lower-body and

core strength, it can also increase heart rate and improve

cardiovascular health, agility, balance, and hand-eye coordination.

Additional Skills Supported by Play Patterns on a Playground

Creativity is encouraged when children use

child playground set as the basis for

imaginative games. A child's imagination turns a climbing tower

into a spaceship or boat. Their play morphs and adjusts to their skill

level and they create an obstacle course or climb on the outside of a

Netplex? playstructure instead of the inside to increase difficulty.

Collaboration and cooperation can be encouraged by specific

components that require children to work together. Slides or our

ZipKrooz? zipline structures require turn-taking and communication. Our

Global Motion? and seesaws also encourage collaboration because

children can operate them as a team, some ride and some push. Sound and

movement can even be utilized with Pulse? multisensory playground games

to encourage collaboration in an interactive way.

Problem-solving skills can be enhanced with various climbing elements.

Children work to figure out how to physically navigate a piece of

equipment, especially one that is new to them.

Persistence can be encouraged when a child keeps trying and doesn't

give up when experiencing a playground activity that is difficult such

as crossing the monkey bars. Once a goal is achieved or a skill

mastered, the child feels a huge sense of accomplishment and increased

self-esteem from working hard to reach a goal.

Playgrounds also offer the opportunity for children of different ages

to learn from and help one another. Children will often copy or learn

from older children or older children may help younger children—

boosting them up while they were climbing, helping them on and off the

equipment, encouraging them not to be scared, and offering to help them

down from the top of a tall structure. These mixed-age social

interactions are an important part of children's social experiences

on the playground.

The play patterns of children illustrate the importance of having a

variety of school outdoor playground

that encourages an assortment of play behaviors. Check out our

many options of age-appropriate and challenging equipment or contact a

Landscape Structures consultant .

Most adults remember their school recess times with fondness. These

opportunities to leave the constraints of the classroom behind and set

out for another playground adventure are memories you cherish forever.

However, today’s children are overwhelmed with an abundance of

activities and fewer opportunities to enjoy outside play. Video games,

TV, after-school activities and an increasing focus on academics have

led to disappearing playgrounds and playtime. This reduction in free

play can negatively impact the development of children.

Playgrounds are essential safe spaces where children can be themselves

and express their fun-loving nature while developing crucial cognitive,

physical, social and emotional skills. In this post, we’ll explore why

more and more child development experts are advocating for more

playgrounds and the increasing importance of parks and playgrounds.

Playgrounds are safe spaces where kids develop crucial physical,

social, emotional and imaginative skills. In this article, we’ll take

an in-depth look at how a child’s development benefits from playing on

the playground.

Learning Through Play
You can’t have a playground without play. To put it simply, play is a

spontaneous activity children engage in to have fun. Experts in a

variety of fields including psychology, biology, health and education

have conducted a multitude of studies on the concept of childhood play

all proving the same critical fact — play is an essential aspect of


Play is fueled by a child’s curiosity. As a child grows, their play

becomes more complex. Without being able to play, children’s ability

to develop and learn is stunted. Just as eating and sleeping are

essential to a child’s health, so too is play.

Playgrounds are the perfect place for children to engage in free play.

Structured play — including sports or organized activities — differs

from free play. When kids are on the playground, different structures

and spaces give them the freedom to choose how they want to play. They

can explore their own natural tendencies, interact with a broader range

of age groups and awaken their creative instincts.

When you watch children on a playground, you’ll soon see that although

they’re having fun, they’re definitely getting a workout. The CDC

recommends children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to

vigorous physical activity every day — and the playground is the

perfect place to get this done. Plus, when kids get into the habit of

exercising and see it as an enjoyable experience, it encourages them to

remain active as they get older.

Playgrounds are a vital aspect of healthy development, providing a

place for children to get a full-body workout, including exercises that

strengthen their arms, legs, torso and so on. From the cardiovascular

system to the circulatory system, each is nurtured and benefited

through vigorous play. Children see a vast variety of physical benefits

through preschool outdoor


Improved flexibility and balance
Development of overall motor skills, dexterity and hand-eye

coordination Opportunities to learn how to control their movement

Improved instincts
Promotion of healthy heart and lung function
Stronger muscles
Improved immune function
Lowered risk of obesity and diabetes

When children spend time on the playgrounds, they learn diverse skills

and test their limits by trying out the various equipment. Slides,

swings, climbers and more encourage kids to develop their agility,

speed, strength, balance and coordination.

Playgrounds are not generally a solitary activity. Whenever you visit a

playground, other kids are bound to be there. When children meet other

kids on the playground, it teaches them important lessons about social

norms and how to interact with others, all of which will come in handy

in adult relationships and their future workplace. Learned social

skills include:

The physical and social benefits of play are more obvious. However,

there are also subtle emotional changes in your child’s wellbeing that

may not be as recognizable, yet are still vitally important.

Physical activity and unstructured playtime on a playground serve as a

healthy way to help children deal with their emotions and reduce stress

levels. Not only can play serve as a distraction from their problems,

but happiness is a natural byproduct of outdoor activities.

Children experience many other positive emotional impacts when they’re

allowed the freedom to play on a playground. Playground play benefits

children because it:

Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem as they master challenging

playground structures

Allows them to retain a sense of control unavailable in many other

parts of their lives

Lowers tendencies to misbehave or bully, as kids’ attention is

diverted with more positive activities

Teaches them how to deal with challenges in a healthy way

Kids do more than slide, swing and climb when on a playground. Just

listen to the conversations, and you’ll realize a variety of other

make-believe games are taking place. Imaginary play is a given whenever

kids are on the playground.

When children use their imagination and play make-believe, it teaches

them social roles. Creativity also fosters a child’s ability to

problem-solve and develop their personality. By using their

imagination, kids can try out different ideas and identities. This

helps them construct a strong sense of self, as they discover their

likes, dislikes and beliefs. Although developing self-identity will

continue throughout their young life, the foundation begins with these

innocent make-believe activities on the playground.

Makes Education More Fun
When a child’s school has a playground, these short breaks allow kids

freedom and fun, which, in turn, makes the educational experience more

fun. In fact, researchers now understand the importance of playgrounds

in schools and how they have an important impact on a child’s ability

to learn and develop.

Opportunities for play also have an effect on children’s attendance

rate at the primary school level. When a child knows there will be

opportunities to let loose, they often find it easier to listen and

learn in the classroom environment.