I don’t think there is any denying the fact that children learn through play. Growing up, I remember doing a lot of imagining and playing and I want the same for my children. In decent weather, I love sending my kids out to play.
Recently where I live, we’ve had a lot of cold weather and rain. In fact, it was snowing a couple of days ago. The weather has been crazy. However, that didn’t stop us from going outside in frigid temperatures (although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the way my son dressed because he doesn’t believe in wearing jackets) with high winds to go play at the park.
It is always fun to watch my children play together on playgrounds. Their imaginations run wild as the play set transforms into cars, huge buildings, pirate ships, schools, and homes. They easily divide themselves into moms and dads, policemen, captains, and other leadership roles while others prefer to be children, drivers, and friends. I watch as they fail and try again, as they have a problem and need to solve it, and where they argue about a role and eventually work it out so everyone is happy. These ideas and pretend games are helping them learn crucial life skills.
Playing at the park creates a place for learning. It is a place where children get to develop their skills in leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and where they build valuable social relationships.
Landscape Structures, a company that is enhancing children’s lives by fostering and creating inspiring play experiences while honoring the environment, is a partner with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Childhood Development where together the are researching how play helps to develop children’s leadership, collaboration, persistence, and problem solving abilities.
We have a few Landscape Structures playgrounds nearby us. They are great because they benefit people of all ages and abilities. We loved the rock wall, teeter totter, slides, and fun things to hang on and climb on.
As we play, I have realized there are 6 areas that children are learning while playing on playgrounds. Let’s take the simple playground activity of crossing the monkey bars as our example of how each of these skills are learned and practiced.
I remember learning to cross the monkey bars as a child. I also remember falling onto the ground a lot.
After falling so many times, I remember how hard it was to get back up and try again.
Despite falling, I remember there was always someone nearby who had already crossed the monkey bars that was explaining what to do next and how to get to the next bar.
Not only was there a leader there who had already been successful, there were other friends nearby cheering me on.
These friends that cheered me on understood what it was like and how hard it was. They were still trying, too. Once we all got the hang of crossing the monkey bars after a lot of practice, we understood not only each other, but as we watched on as new children were attempting to cross the monkey bars. We could support them and be a leader to them.
Once we could cross the monkey bars without falling off, it immediately became a competition. We’d compete for fastest time or who could go back and forth the most before falling. Then we learned tricks on the monkey bars. It was all competition and it taught us that we can’t win every time but we can support each other in their success.
The following adorable video was created by Landscape Structures. It celebrates the promise of our future as kids play and develop the skills that will shape them as adults. It shows how Landscape Structures playgrounds are providing play areas for all ages and abilities.