When movement is concerned in children, it is absolutely vital that parents consider assimilating sports and complex exercise in playtime. The benefits of physically demanding exercise in children are near endless and they help to not only produce short term advantages (quicker bedtimes) but long term as well. Children also tend to learn by experiences and the best way for that is through trial and error in the playgrounds.
For a long while it was a rarity when a trip to the park or playgrounds would render your children exhausted and content for the entirety of the day, but these days the trend is on the way out. Just last week I heard the two incredibly desired words from my four-year old, “I’m tired”. Now this is incredibly uncommon coming from my sugar-rushed son whose idea of a pre-bedtime meal is a massive bowl of Froot Loops. So hearing that he was exhausted from his afternoon on the local church’s playground equipment had a welcome reception from the missus and I. This is perhaps largely due to the new play structures our local church had recently installed. The artificially elevated hills where the slides were placed helped tire him during his runs and the new modular climbing frames really pushed his little body to the limits. So as his prematurely early bedtime approached, I began thinking about the shift in the core design of playground equipment.
Manufacturers of playground structures have long toiled with different ideas to incorporate into their products and recently, it seems the focus has turned towards improving the fitness of children without compromising on the fun one bit. Take the Ant Hill for instance. Our church has a slightly modified version of this structure and once I’ve seen this in one play-space already, it’s difficult not to see other variations of this in other playgrounds around the area too. But the Ant Hill is a brilliant example of the way manufacturers are now incorporating exercise into play time. The simple structure features a series of toughened walls which support “rock-climbing” characteristics. So now, not only can children experience the thrill associated with this play structure, but exhaust themselves during playtime in ways that were reserved for ball or contact sports only. This helps drill the essential cognitive and physical characteristics children require while growing from a remarkably early age.
One might argue that church playground equipment of this kind does bring a new level of dangers that children may be exposed to, and these are all valid concerns. This is something I wondered as well and hesitated when my son wanted a go, and one fall later I figured that the foam padding used for the playground was a suitable enough surface for children to withstand impacts on.
So the next time you’re out and about with your child, looking for the best playground to spend your afternoon in, consider one that incorporates movement and exercise with its play structures and utilizes foam padding for playgrounds as a surfacing material.