The Childhood Benefits of a Backyard Playground
For many children, a backyard playground or swing set is a dream come true. An outdoor playset gives them the opportunity to explore, learn and improve physical skills on a daily basis, without ever leaving home. As they learn and play, they are expending energy and making memories on the swings, slide, tire swing, rock-climbing wall and other activities.
But the benefits of a backyard playground go beyond the happiness parents and family members see their kids experiencing on the swing set. Here is a list of the other childhood benefits, some known and others often overlooked, associated with owning a backyard playground:
Helps Children Learn to Play with Others: One of the most important skills children will need during their school years — and later on as an adult in the workplace — is the ability to communicate and work with others. Swing sets and backyard playgrounds facilitate this because the little ones need to share and take turns when it comes to going down the slide, looking through the binoculars in the clubhouse, climbing up the ladder, and so on. By learning how to cooperate with their peers early on and simultaneously imagining and exploring together, the children are understanding and adopting important social norms.
Helps Them Learn to Play Alone: Just as important as it is to learn to interact with others, learning to entertain oneself and be content alone is a wonderful skill for children to gain. Whether the little one is an only child or a young sibling whose brothers and sisters are much older, a swing set gives him or her many activities to keep busy. Displaying independence at such a young age is a good indication that the child may continue to nurture this skill as he or she grows.
Helps Develop Muscles: Who doesn’t want their child to be strong and healthy? A swing set or backyard playground allows little ones to be just that. With more than 23 years in the business, we have seen a common scenario play out: a new wooden swing set is installed, and the parents of young children are quietly hesitant because of the size of the playset. By the end of the day, that hesitation is gone because they see how quickly their children pick up the new activities. As they master these challenges — swinging, climbing, hanging, pushing, etc. — they develop upper body strength, leg strength and more.
Helps Develop Motor Skills: With all the activities the average backyard playground offers today, there are endless opportunities to work on grasping, hand/eye/foot coordination, balance, jumping ability, hanging strength, and more. We always recommending choosing a swing set that is large enough to grow with your family, so there are opportunities to develop different motor skills at different ages (think learning how to step as a young toddler to becoming an expert on the monkey bars just a few years later). Some of the abilities children develop on their swing set will help them grow into athletes, too.
Encourages Physical Activity: With all of the devices available to little ones today, it’s important to instill a love of movement and a love of the outdoors. There are enormous benefits to simply being outside (see this article for specifics that range from the importance of Vitamin D to mental health improvements to advantages for vision and sight). A backyard playground will get the kids out of the house each day for years to come. What a wonderful way to get them to exercise without even really knowing it! The benefits of a swing set may be even greater if your child attends a school where recess has started to dwindle away in recent years.
It’s important to remember that all of these benefits work alongside the number-one reward of having a backyard playground for the kids, which is the happiness they feel anytime they play on it. What sorts of positive effects has your home swing set had on your children? Tell us in the comments. And don’t forget to check out this blog, which discusses the impact swing sets have on self-esteem and problem-solving skills.
Thanks for reading and happy playing!