More often than not, elementary school playgrounds are overlooked learning spaces. But a school playground provides more than just a place to run around and burn off energy. It actually plays a vital role in child development and is essential to a child’s overall health and wellbeing. And with more students going home and sitting on electronic devices, many are only getting this essential playtime at school.
Many schools struggle with funding and have limited budgets for school upgrades and improvements. But we encourage you not to overlook the outdoor play area. It should be right up there with other important school features such as the library, gym and music and art rooms. Below are four important benefits of school playgrounds.
1. Encourage Outdoor Play
There are varying opinions on how long a child should play outdoors, but experts usually suggest at least one hour a day. However, in reality, the average American child only spends about 4 to 7 minutes a day outdoors and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen! But spending time outside is more than for enjoyment - it’s necessary.
Having an updated school playground will help kids take interest in being outdoors. They can explore nature, boost their confidence, practice new skills and be more creative and imaginative. Plus, being outdoors gets kids moving.
2. Improve Behavior in the Classroom
Studies continue to show that recess benefits students by improving their memory and attention, reducing disruptive behavior and helping them stay focused. Teachers will agree that these components lead to a happy and productive classroom environment.
It’s important to point out that kids don’t need a full 45 minutes outside at once. Having a school playground allows teachers to use the equipment in 15-minute increments. This is just as beneficial as being outdoors for one long stretch - and teachers will appreciate the outdoor break as well!
3. Help Kids Develop Social Skills
Since the pandemic, some teachers have reported that their students are struggling with social skills in the classroom. While there are opportunities to practice social skills in this setting, an outdoor playground provides more real-world opportunities in a safe context.
On the playground, kids are able to play and engage with all of their peers without the structure and expectations of a classroom. They get to practice taking turns, cooperating with peers, listening, solving conflict and enjoying the company of others. It’s amazing how kids can blossom in this unstructured setting!
4. Support Good Mental Health
Not only have more young students been struggling with social skills but also good mental health. The pandemic has played a role in this, but even before COVID-19, there was a significant increase in anxiety and depression in young people.
Fortunately, schools can step up and provide more opportunities for students to practice good mental health and positive coping skills. A school playground allows kids to soak up mood-boosting vitamin D, release stress, solve problems, explore the world and be in an environment that is not micromanaged by an adult.
Plan Your School Playground Today
Whether you’re looking to add a few pieces of equipment to your playground, or you prefer a total transformation, Cunningham Recreation can help! We have a number of solutions for school playground equipment that will give your students and staff something to look forward to every day!