Play isn’t just for fun. It also helps encourage growth and development in children. Play can help develop social skills, for example, by encouraging children to engage in play together. When children play on the playground and imagine themselves on a pirate ship, for instance, they may add to each other’s ideas, agree on a set of rules, and each take on specific roles as part of their game. This prepares them for social interaction in other ways, too.
Play also encourages children to exercise and stay active while developing physical strength. Children who play on slides and climbers develop balance, strength and agility. Children who run from one piece of playground equipment to another develop cardiovascular strength and work on their physical health and well-being. Early childhood play can also help children see that exercise is fun, which can mean they continue to stay active.
For younger children, play on the playground helps foster curiosity, imagination and sensory development. Children may touch textured surfaces of playground equipment, exploring the world with that sense. They may listen to the sounds of a playground and get curious about sound. The bright colors of the playground as well as the various shapes may help encourage visual curiosity and the ability to recognize shapes and colors. For older children, activity panels can help with the recognition of numbers, shapes and letters.
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