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5 Important Benefits of Preschool Playgrounds

Ever heard of Terrible 2s? Treacherous 3’s? Frantic 4’s?

Parents frequently talk or complain about these infamous phases of childhood, without realizing exactly how stressful it is to experience these years from a child’s perspective. Toddlers undergo major changes inside their small bodies.   L. Eugene Arnold’s Childhood Stress succinctly states: “Preschool-aged children seem particularly vulnerable to certain kinds of stressful events, primarily because of the cognitive and emotional tasks of the preschool period.”

Regardless of whether your child is officially enrolled in a preschool, the age span of 2 to 5 are commonly known as the preschool stage.  This stage is marked by greater independence as they prefer to  interact first-hand with the sensory world.  They understand their capacity to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch stimuli and their environment.  Motor functions like running and climbing are becoming not just feasible, but enjoyable.  With all of these developing skills, come greater social needs as well.

All of this brings us to the importance of play.  In her blog post, 10 Things Every Parent Should Know About Play, Laurel Bongiorno, PhD, explains that “Children practice and reinforce their learning in multiple areas during play. It gives them a place and a time for learning that cannot be achieved through completing a worksheet.”

And this is just the beginning of what play does for kids, especially at this age.  The following five points illustrate why a preschool playground is essential for healthy childhood development.

Every child develops at his or her own pace, but in the most general sense, preschool age is considered to be the time when kids begin to master what cognitive psychologists have term Gross Motor Skills.  

These skills range from uses of large muscles (arms, legs, and core) to hand-eye coordination.  Children in this stage use these facilities to run, jump, and climb.  This is also when children will develop interest in sporting activities, like catching, throwing, and handling a ball.  

These skills, in turn, build confidence, which empowers children to engage more with their peers and environment.  This ability to engage leads to greater independence, but not without hurdles.  Children of this age will become easily frustrated and irritable when they become tired or embarrassed.

An optimal playground for preschool children should provide a diversity of opportunities.  Children need structures to climb, crawl, and stretch on.  Additionally, they’ll need open space to allow free-form play.  Walking on uneven surfaces, swinging on a swing set, and climbing a rock wall are just a few practices that can strengthen more than one of these muscles at once.

Our preschool playground structures are designed to challenge children to engage both their sense of depth perception and spatial awareness.

In preschool, outdoor games are a primary force for socialization.  Through play, kids interact with each other and begin to conceptualize the reality that the world is full of individuals with their own wants and needs.

This is an age when expanding vocabulary is leading to more capacity for conversation.  They’re learning to tell stories and assemble narratives that come to a point, or relay a coherent message.  Children have the ability to verbally engage with one another and resolve conflicts through the same means.  At this crucial age, finite resources like treats and toys are more likely to generate conflict than cooperation.  

That’s what makes a shareable play experience so valuable.  On a playground, every child has equal availability to self-guided play.  It allows children to play together without an anxiety that another child is getting more or less than they are.  This Social play teaches preschoolers how to set boundaries, take turns, act as a team, and compete. Children also learn to negotiate with different personalities, gaining first hand experience how it feels to win or lose.

Preschool play structures, when properly utilized, activate the imagination.  As any parent knows, preschoolers live in the land of make believe.  It doesn’t take much to stimulate their creativity, but playgrounds serve as an excellent backdrop for their already ever-active minds.

Themed panels are a great example of a playground components that help children imagine another world for their play.  Structures like the Tot Town Fire Adventure offer another example of a fully modular playground that reinforces pretend play.  Its fire engine design has a connection bridge, steering wheel, and activities that create an environment where kids can imagine themselves as firefighters.

Pretend play is proven to be fun for kids and important for their young minds’ development.   According to the American Journal of Play by Sandra W. Russ and Claire E. Wallace, one function of pretend play is to “[provide] space for emotional expression and learning to modulate emotion.”

A clinical report on the subject for the American Association of Pediatrics states that, “play is essential to development . . . so important . . . that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.”

Equally important, preschool playground safety standards have been set to ensure that this right is properly monitored.  The EN 1176 safety standard identifies numerous different factors that need to be taken into account in ensuring playground safety.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Public Playground Safety Handbook notes that young preschool kids can have a difficult time using certain climbers since they have not yet fully developed their upper body coordination needed for that level of difficulty.  Additionally, moving equipment like merry go rounds should be avoided entirely for this age group.

One way to simplify safety regulations on a preschool playground’s design is to separate playsets by age group.  Preschool-aged children should have a separate play area from kids aged 5 and up.  This helps not only to regulate the complexity of equipment, but also to buffer the pace and intensity at which different age groups play. 

Finding the age-appropriate play equipment though is never an easy task, especially if it’s without proper guidance and assistance from subject-matter experts.  For starter, playground equipment should be designed for three different age groups namely; infants and toddlers under 2, preschoolers (2 to 5), and school-age kids (5 to 12).

When you’re tending to a child’s needs, you don’t have time to worry about finances.  That is why worry and hassle-free after sales are important in selecting a preschool playground’s design and and construction plan.

Playgroundequipment.com offers a variety of warranties for playground structures.  Keep in mind, these warranties apply to the replacement and repair of individual components, rather than the entire playset.

Play is Good!

When it comes to parenting or teaching children, the joys definitely outnumber the pains.  No degree of childish misbehavior offsets the privilege of hearing a child beam that bright smile or exclaim, “This is the best day of my life.”  All because they got a chance to play to their heart’s content.
Other benefits of preschool play include:

  • Educating about the self, others, and the environment.
  • Developing problem-solving skills
  • Enhancing creativity
  • Crafting leadership and learning skills
  • Encouraging strong and healthy growth
  • Facilitating emotional capacities

At Playground Equipment, we acknowledge the pain points and recognize how difficult it is for to provide for these social-cognitive needs while balancing the stress it places on you as the parent or teacher.  That’s why we want to help you spend less time looking for the best age-appropriate playground equipment and focus on the more important stuff, your preschooler’s needs.