The benefits of playing and learning in the playground
Being able to play has huge benefits for children in terms of enjoyment and freedom and acquiring social skills. Playgrounds can also be a big source of learning, somewhere that supports what children are doing in the classroom, rather than simply providing a break from it. In fact, playing and learning in the playground is a vital part of a fully rounded educational experience – these are some of the benefits for children who do it.
- Physical games keep children healthy. The more physical activity children do, the fitter and stronger they are likely to be. There are so many benefits to playground activity, whether that relates to building muscle and lung capacity or a healthier heart. Outdoor games also develop vital movement ability, reflexes and movement control, which are all key for early stage development. Given the amount of time children spend on screens and devices today, physical play is even more important to ensure the brain can enjoy the benefits of a break from digital content.
- Supporting emotional development. Free play in a playground environment provides children with a wealth of opportunities when it comes to emotional development and learning to manage how they feel. That could be in terms of building confidence and patience when it comes to handling challenges or with respect to finding ways to resolve disagreement and conflict with others. Physical play in a playground provides a safe space where children can explore imagination as well as taking risks in order to build self-esteem and understand the benefits of getting outside your comfort zone.
- Improving cognitive development. The playground is somewhere that children can develop a wealth of different skills and abilities, including those that relate to cognitive development. That could be, for example, language skills and learning the process of communicating ideas and wants and needs effectively. Many teacher-led games can use a playground setting and these have been found to be fundamental to the way that kids develop.
- A place to understand being sociable. Children often look forward to a break from the classroom and to being able to meet friends in the playground and socialise. This can be a complex social environment where we begin to understand what it means to interact with others and how to navigate social norms. It might be somewhere that team skills are developed or where children learn how to understand social cues. Effective communication and learning how to form relationships are also all part of the experience.
- Supporting lessons in the classroom. Exploring, inventing and creating in the way that children do in the playground is just as vital to learning and development as classroom lessons. Playground time gives children the opportunity to blow off some steam, leading to better concentration in lessons, and many of the things that are learned in the playground support educational development too.
From social skills to cognitive development these are just some of the benefits that any child can enjoy from playing and learning in the playground.