Playground Developmental Benefits


Generally, it is rare to find children that don’t enjoy spending time at the playground running, playing, and making new friends. But did you know that while your child is romping around in your neighborhood park’s play area that they are also helping their development? There are a wide variety of benefits that can be directly linked to young kids spending time playing. Read on to learn about some playground developmental benefits.

Free Play

Toddlers and younger kids tend to be driven by their own curiosity which naturally inspires them to be more active. Their curiosity leads them to enjoy engaging in free play where they are not forced to wait in line for their turn. Free play allows children to play in any way they choose which stands in contrast to more organized types of play such as sports or games. Playgrounds provide an excellent avenue for children to participate in free play.  One of the major developmental benefits from free play at playgrounds is that it provides kids the opportunity to learn from one another and to interact with a wide range of age groups.

Brain Development

Another one of the developmental benefits of children spending time at playgrounds is the growth and maturation of the brain. The type of play that is engaged in at the playground stimulates brain development by helping to build the foundation neuropathways of the brain, improving mental organization, and establishing the capabilities of the brain. One report on the role of playgrounds in development stated it this way, “The connections of the brain as an overgrown, difficult -to-walk path. The more a child plays (using sensory impressions and motor-activities) the more the child, in their brain, walks that path. The more the path is walked by engaging in free play, the more defined the path becomes.” I think this is a great word picture for how playing can impact brain development.

Motor Skills

Children with poorly developed motor skills by age five will likely never develop efficient motor skills (click here for the full study). Playgrounds are critical because as children move around the space, they are encouraged to advance into their next stage of development as they take on new challenges and play equipment. Some of these activities (such as bridges and ramps) provide locomotor skills while others promote balance and coordination (such as slides and swings).