Parents are aware of the importance of outside play time on the well-being of their children but due to work and other distractions, they are not able to give their kids the amount of play time that they need. Because of this, there are children who develop sensory disabilities, such as sensory processing disorder and autism spectrum disorder.
These are alarming facts that parents should do something about immediately. Giving your child more time to play is not enough. You should also strive to provide your kid a stimulating multi-sensory environment for play time that will help in his physical, cognitive, and social development. Multi-sensory play areas are hubs that help children develop a better grasp of a holistic early childhood development.
|Be a good parent and let him play outside. Photo from mindfullivingnetwork.com|
How Lack of Play Affects Kids
With kids staying indoors most of the time, they have become vulnerable to numerous physical, emotional, and social risks. Some of these are:
- Increase in obesity. Children with no access to parks or playgrounds near their home are more likely to become overweight due to lack of physical activity.
- Decrease in creativity and imagination. Lack of playtime will also have an effect on their resiliency, social skills, curiosity, and their ability to identify and assess risks.
- Problems in social interaction. These children tend to fail when it comes to working in groups, negotiating, and resolving conflicts.
- Higher incidence in classroom behavioral problems. Because of their inability to interact with peers and authority figures, they are prone to displays of violence and emotional outbursts.
This is why parents should provide intentional opportunities for their kids so they can actively use their senses. One way to do this is to provide them play equipment that allows them to experience multi-sensory play.
Benefits of Play
Sensory play has a crucial role in brain development. It stimulates the senses, which sends signals to a child’s brain. This helps strengthen the pathways in the brain, which is important in learning. Sensory play helps develop and refine a child’s essential skill sets.
The playground is a source of activities that help in developing your kid’s cognitive development, sensory stimulation, and fine and gross motor skills. This allows kids to access fun sensory experiences in a safe, outdoor setting.
Play helps children develop the following skill sets:
- Creative solutions to problems
- Self-respect and respect for others
- Ability to express emotions
- Respect for the thoughts and feelings of others
- Social and relational skills with family
- Independence and confidence on their abilities
Why Multi-Sensory Playgrounds?
|Let them get their hands dirty. Photo from Konstantina Iakovou via Pinterest|
The different activities that a multi-sensory play area provides (swinging, spinning, sliding, climbing, rocking, etc.) help develop a child’s sensory system. These activities teach kids how to take control in terms of positioning, movement, balance, and spatial awareness.
A multi-sensory playground is designed to provide different types of learning experiences which occur everytime a child uses the equipment in the play area. These types of learning include:
- Cognitive Development. Your kid will learn his math skills such as size, counting, timing, and conservation. He will learn to understand the differences between sinking and floating, full and empty, and more and less. Your kid will have his problem solving and decision-making skills tested when he is presented with materials and he figures out how to use them.
- Language Development. Using the playground will earn your kid experiences which he will use as topics to talk about with other people, like his playmates. He will also get his pre-writing skills tested as he works on eye to hand coordination while using play materials. Your kid will learn how to express himself using an expressive and descriptive language. This is the time for him to learn the meaning behind words that may seem meaningless or sound gibberish.
- Social and Emotional Development. This is where your kid will discover how to make observations and how to respond to results. Since your kid will be playing and learning with other children, he will learn how to cooperate with others and understand someone else’s opinion. This is the perfect environment where he can test his emerging concepts and share his ideas.
- Physical Development. During playtime, your kid will be involved in activities that will practice his small motor skills. This is where he learns how to control his body and gain a sense of direction. Do not fret or panic whenever your kid explores outside or runs his hands and feet all over surfaces for this is when he enhances his gross motor skills.
- Creative Development. Your child will engage in opportunities in which he will learn that there are times in which the process is more important than the result. He will learn how to maximize his creativity in order to build his self-esteem.
|Kids are happier when they are learning together. Photo from sheknows.com|
Keeping Children Safe During Multi-Sensory Play
After finding a good playground where your kid can play to his heart’s content, the next thing you have to think about is ensuring his safety. Here are some of the general guidelines to keep your kid safe while he’s busy playing with his friends.
- Avoid going to areas with dangerous surfaces. These surfaces include hard-packed soil, asphalt and concrete. A safe playground makes use of shredded rubber, mulch, and wood chips for surfaces.
- Try the handgrips first before letting your kid use it. The size and shape of the hand grips should be just right for your kid to grasp it easily.
- Avoid swing seats that are made of wood or metal.
- Watch out for stuff that could trip your kid. Be careful not to step on rocks, tree stumps, or exposed concrete footings.
- Make sure your kid uses the equipment that is right for his age. Letting your toddler use the equipment made for older kids can cause serious harm in case of accidents.
If you plan to build your own play area for your child and his friends, make sure to shop around for the best deal possible on safe and complete multi-sensory playground. Ensure not only your kid’s enjoyment and sensory play development, but his safety as well.
PlaygroundEquipment.com has a good number of play sets and play systems that can aid this much needed early childhood developments hubs. Get in touch with us for a string of suggestions that may help your toddlers and preschool kids in every step of the way.
Learn about the author: Jennifer Holmes