When nearly two-thirds of all parents are worried that their children spend too much time on their electronic devices every day, you know that outdoor play is really important. Only a third of children are getting anywhere near the healthy level of activity recommended by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, which is only 25 minutes of high activity three times a week.
One of the keys to getting kids outside is providing them with safe and stimulating places to play. Studies have shown that play stimulates the development of the brain in children and that children who do not have the chance to engage their gross motor activities in the first six years of life have limited brain power later.
How can a community provide the right kind of places for kids and parents to be together and places that allow children to use their gross motor skills and stimulate their imagination and development?
Provide Spaces With Something For Everyone
Parents and other caregivers are exhausted. Many of them simply don’t have the energy to stand and watch children for a long period of time. Providing quality outdoor park benches or something like aluminum bleachers so that parents and grandparents can sit at their ease while the kids play is crucial to making a space that families will actually use. It’s important to remember that outdoor park benches need to be in the shade, especially during the hottest part of the day, so directionality needs to be determined ahead of time. It’s also important that caregivers sitting on outdoor park benches be able to see the children they’re responsible for.
Provide Safe Places
Trees are wonderful, but heavily wooded areas too close to a playground allows potential bad actors, and even wild animals or feral dogs, to get close to children without detection. This makes families nervous and keeps them out of parks. A few big trees, well spaced, can provide plenty of shade for a commercial playground and the accompanying outdoor park benches without compromising children’s safety. It’s also a good idea to have a clearly demarcated playground border.
Provide Safe Equipment
Children are hard on park playground equipment. Make sure you get playground parts, swing set hardware, and other commercial playsets that will provide stimulation while also providing safety. Although the playground may be primarily for kids, remember that teens are likely to be playing on it at times, as well. High-quality materials and construction will make sure that everyone stays safe.
Playgrounds are important gathering places where families can stay safe and help their children get a break from electronics while improving their motor skills and stimulating their brains. Today’s children spend less than half the time outside that their own parents did, and this will take a toll on future generations. If you’re responsible for providing outdoor play places, make sure you source good equipment and plan well so that kids and those who love them have a safe and fun place to be together.