Child Development

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Making Playgrounds Accessible & Inclusive for All

  After reading an interesting article from a mother frustrated with the accessibility options of a new playground in her community, it reminds us all to keep accessibility and inclusive play at the forefront of our minds when designing our playground equipment. Commercial playground equipment manufacturers today have taken great steps forward in providing new and exciting options that cater to children with a wide range of challenges, whether it be physical, mental or social.  It is our responsibility as community members and mentors to provide a play space that promotes inclusive play for all children. Providing accessibility to playground equipment entails more than just complying with minimum accessibility requirements, standards and laws. It means providing a play space where children of all abilities can experience play together.  With all of the resources and options out there today, there is no reason our playground equipment can’t be exciting for all children. Playground equipment manufacturers have recently introduced a barrage of new ADA products including double wide ramps, accessible merry-go-rounds, therapeutic swing seats, and sensory panels that feature sound, music, and interaction.  Plus, more exciting options are becoming available every day! Not all of us our experts on accessibility, and we don’t have to be.  ... Read more

Helping Children Transition Easily into a New School Environment

  It is never easy transitioning from one environment to another, but for elementary school-aged children, the transition from one school to a new one can be especially trying. The idea of having new teachers, classrooms and friends can be daunting to even the most outgoing of children, and it will take purposeful planning on the parents’ behalf to ensure that their children know it is acceptable to be nervous about heading to a new learning environment. It is not uncommon for students to feel out of place for the first month to month and a half of beginning in new schools, especially if they are in a new home environment as well. Children who experience the stress of moving to new schools may show their discomfort by acting out, withdrawing from social activities or even changing their diet and sleeping patterns. With these new transitions, parents should keep in mind the following tips to help their children get used to their new schools, their new friends and the new responsibilities that come with them:   Tips for Transitioning Easily into a New School 1. Allow your children (and yourself) to experience the stress. This particular step seems counterintuitive, but acknowledging the stress that both you ... Read more

The Cure for Childhood Obesity: Play

Childhood obesity has become a major issue within the last 20 years due to the surging amounts of obesity prevalent among young children.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% of children and adolescents are obese.  Since the 1980s, the numbers have almost tripled. A number of factors in today’s society contribute to the increase in childhood obesity including poor diet and lack of physical activity.  Although there is not one simple solution, there are things we can do to help, and allowing our children to play is one of them. Children need at least 1 hour of physical activity each day, and playgrounds are great way for children to get exercise. Playground equipment offers fun and physically challenging features.  Many playgrounds even offer outdoor fitness equipment that serve a wide range of age groups, even adults. The physical challenges of a playground are diverse, ranging from balance and strength to more complex challenges such as flexibility and endurance. Climbers, swings, ladders and slides all have the ability to work a strategic set of muscles in the body. Simply put, a playground keeps children moving, an important aspect in their overall health and wellness.  Combine consistent play with ... Read more

How I Found the Playground (and Why You Should Too)

I cried at my daughter’s dance recital, but not for the reason that you might think. Yes, she looked adorable, and yes, I realized that she was growing up so fast. But I cried because I realized that I had spent hundreds of dollars on classes that culminated in this moment—and I was having a better time than she was. She didn’t look unhappy, necessarily. She just looked bored. I had envisioned that dance class would build her confidence, develop her ability to interact with a group and maybe improve her impulse control. When it did not appear to be having a huge impact in any of those areas, I decided to simply hope that she would have a good time. But clearly, this was not her idea of a good time. Since that disastrous dance experience, I’ve done some research and learned a few things. Turns out, the experts advise something very different to build confidence, develop self control and enhance development in a host of other areas—and it doesn’t cost a thing.  They say that I should let her play. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, unstructured play is essential to child development. It’s how children learn to interact, solve ... Read more

Playgrounds Provide Myriad Developmental Benefits for Children

Although a school playground may just seem like fun, an array of benefits come from children spending time with other kids using playground equipment. The positive effects of a school or park playground go far beyond the obvious ones, like physical exercise. Playgrounds can actually provide essential experiences and development for children in areas as diverse as social skills, creativity, problem solving, reasoning and more. The benefits that a simple trip to the playground can provide are often more profound and far-reaching than those that even the most sophisticated modern teaching-based technologies can provide. Understanding What Play is In order to decipher what benefits playgrounds can provide for children, it’s helpful to first understand exactly what play is and how it helps children develop. Play allows kids to learn a range of skills, including: coordination and motor skills, cognitive skills, social acumen, language and more. Doctors, scientists from psychologists to biologists, and educators have all conducted research that proves this critical fact: Without being able to play, children may develop the aforementioned skills at a severely stunted rate. Just like eating and sleeping each day, play is completely necessary for a child to develop necessary skills at a healthy rate. Humans ... Read more