As it stands there are around 30,000 schools in the UK, but not all of them have a playground. They might have an open space and grounds, but they don’t necessarily have a true playground with accessories and markings.
This is usually because of problems with funding, as other aspects of the schools’ needs take priority at a time when the headlines are quite damning about the strain school budgets are under. Sometimes, school boards may also struggle to understand the benefits of having a playground, so a push for funding may not happen. This is such a shame for pupils because there are many benefits to playgrounds, far beyond it being a general area for play. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of these important outdoor spaces and why every school should have one:
Any school can benefit from the bright, beautiful look of a playground. Different structures like climbing frames, swing sets and towers, combined with vivid grass or colourful thermoplastic markings, look incredible, and let every child know that this is the area for them to have fun – far more than empty and barren tarmac or grass fields and fencing.
The NHS recommends children under five should be active and exercising in some way for around three hours a day, and children over five around 60 minutes a day (cardio as well as additional types of exercise). Playgrounds encourage all kinds of movement, including running, jumping, climbing and swinging, helping children to achieve the exercise and movement recommended to help them grow strong and avoid obesity.
Playgrounds, especially those with a range of equipment types, stimulate brain connections and help cognitive development. Gross motor skills are developed when jumping and running, and fine motor skills are developed when using hand movements like gripping swings and manipulating smaller items in something like a mud kitchen.
Ability To Utilise For Lessons
Although the inside of the school is a great place for learning, sometimes learning outside can bring different qualities to a lesson. It is especially helpful for children who are more physical in how they learn, and who could perhaps gain from a different way of getting to grips with a concept that has been difficult to comprehend in the classroom.
Playgrounds with thermoplastic markings can be used for a range of PE lessons and outdoor games. Playground equipment like climbing frames and climbing logs are also great accessories for assault courses, and even maths and English games with a little planning and creativity.
Playgrounds can also have their own little garden sections, with planters and growing projects. This can be fenced off and brightly signposted, helping them to enjoy science lessons and sensory play with growing plants and herbs.
Emotional Regulation, Expression & Exploration
Being in nature, and able to enjoy imaginative play with playground towers, mud kitchens and other creative pieces of equipment is integral to a child exploring their emotions. They can ‘put themselves in another’s shoes’, act out emotions they feel in a safe way, and learn how to regulate emotions when sharing equipment and interacting with others.
A focal point like a piece of play equipment in a playground encourages children to interact with each other and play together. They also have to learn how to share, take turns and listen to caregivers supervising their play session providing rule guidance and safety information.
Suitable For All Ages
Playgrounds can benefit schools with pupils of all ages. Younger preschoolers will love mud kitchens, sand pits and mini climbing frames, whilst slightly older children can enjoy larger more extensive play towers, climbing frames and swing sets. For schools with mixed ages, different play areas for different age groups can be fenced off and separated within the playground for added safety and organisation of the space.
Children get a lot of benefits from spending time in nature, building their confidence, encouraging better moods, an awareness of the wider world and more. Playgrounds help encourage children to spend more time outside, helping them to benefit from the fresh air and natural world, whatever the weather.
Is It Time You Planned A Playground?
If you think it is time your school invested in a playground, speak to a professional school play equipment specialist today to discuss design, pricing and installation. With their help, you can also access information on fundraising and funding your new playground, making the path to perfect outdoor play for your pupils even shorter, and easier.
Hopefully, soon enough your pupils will be enjoying all the above playground benefits and more, for healthy, happy break times that are loaded with learning opportunities, and of course, plenty of fun.
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