For children of all ages, play is hugely important. In fact, it’s essential, as it helps children under the age of six to develop important fine and gross motor skills. If these skills are not developed through activity and movement before a child reaches that pivotal sixth birthday, it’s unlikely that they ever will be. As one can guess, this can have a wholly negative impact on the brainpower and the abilities of the child in question.
But of course physical and active play have more benefits than just the development of fine and gross motor skills, even as hugely important as they are. In addition to this, play can help children to maintain a healthy body, allowing them the movement that they need to stay at a healthy weight and grow strong as they grow up. Finally, play allows them a time to expand their creativity and fight off boredom with their minds, a time for them to make friends and grow relationships or even, depending on the circumstances, learn how to play independently.
For many reasons, active and engaged play is hugely important for children of all ages (and especially younger ones). However, unfortunately, far too many children – up to two thirds of them – are not getting up an moving for even 25 minutes out of the day, the time for physical activity that has been recommended by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association here in the United States. There are many reasons that this might be the case, but a big one can be linked to the widespread prevalence of electronic devices here in the United States, from tablets to smart phones to televisions to computers.
In fact, it’s estimated that children at or over the age of eight will watch TV alone for as many as four and a half hours out of the day. In total, the average child is likely to have more than seven full hours of screen time as well, incorporating not just TV but many of the other types of electronics that have been mentioned above. Even the youngest of children now view screens on a regular basis, playing games on tablets instead of going outside to play, so much of a problem that more than half of all parents feel some level of concern over how much screen time their children are getting.
Fortunately, however, there are many ways to encourage active play in one’s children. Taking them to a playground, for example, is one great way to do it. Playgrounds are more extensive and more friendly to creative and rambunctious play than ever before, from including things like rock climbing hand holds to things like a framed pit for a sandbox. This framed pit is a great way to keep the sand contained, but the framed pit also works to keep children safe as well. Aside from the framed pit (and in addition to the framed pit), playgrounds are safer than they have ever been before.
Where the ground of playgrounds used to be simply concrete, the times have changed and pour in place rubber has become the standard for many a playground all throughout the United States. Pour in place rubber or even wood chips are much safer for children to fall onto, whether they simply fall while running or instead fall more seriously, such as off of a swing or from a piece of playground equipment that’s relatively high up. And while falling onto concrete could all too easily lead to serious injury or even, in some tragic cases, death, this is simply not the case when falling onto pour in place rubber, swing mats, or inside of a framed pit like the framed pit typically seen for a sandbox.
Aside from being safer than ever, playgrounds are now more accessible than ever as well. There are playgrounds out there for children with profound physical disabilities and playgrounds for very young children have also begun to spring up all over the place. The prominence of these accessible playgrounds has made physical play all the more likely to happen – and all the more likely to be fun.