Providing safety surfaces for both domestic and public settings, the team at Playsmart champion playgrounds as places that improve children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Playing outside, in a park, garden or playground has been shown to increase the health and wellbeing of children, by encouraging life-long skills of productivity, creativity and forming relationships. Especially in this technological day and age, children from young ages are spending most their free time indoors on electronic devices, be that a mobile, iPad, television, computer or games console. The increase in children’s screen time coupled with pressures of school and home, calls for encouraging outdoor play. When in a liberating outdoor environment, there is a notable change in children’s behaviours. Playing outdoors in school breaks, lunches and free time, also on the weekends in parks; creates a place of freedom and a form of escapism. When playing in communal places, children learn essential social skills, like making friends and sharing toys/equipment with peers. The English Outdoor Council states that children playing outdoors “extends their personal horizons through greater appreciation and understanding of the world and its peoples around them”.
In terms of health, children’s mental health and physical growth is a key factor in encouraging outdoor play. Getting fresh air from the outdoors and vitamin D from the sun promotes the release of serotonin, balancing children’s mood and boosting the feeling of happiness. Playing outside and being active helps develops children’s bones, strengthens joints and muscles, and works the cardiovascular system whilst developing motor skills like hand-eye coordination. The positive physical effects of outdoor play is endless, and with child obesity on the rise, 30% of children in the UK are now classed as overweight. To prevent obesity in adulthood and this later developing into type two diabetes, outdoor play is more important than ever before.
Outdoor play in the school curriculum, in lessons and free time is a perfect opportunity for children to release energy and learn in a different environment. When playing outside on the daily mile tracks or children’s play area, students take ownership of their own learning and get to experiment with their style and approach to learning. The outdoors develops soft skills of problem solving and critical thinking, whereas in the classroom, hard skills of knowing how to count, read and write are cultivated. Giving students the freedom to take responsibility for their learning and make decisions on their preferred learning environment generates inter personal skills. Imagination and intellect is often linked to time spent in the outdoors; playing, exercise and learning outside nurtures children’s sense of self and increases their confidence.
The OPENspace Research centre discusses the experience of the outdoors and how it “has the potential to confer a multitude of benefits on young people’s physical development, emotional and mental health and well-being and societal development. Mental health and wellbeing benefits from play in natural settings appear to be long-term, realised in the form of emotional stability in young adulthood.” With Playsmart’s fifteen years’ experience within the playground safety surfacing industry, the team are dedicated to creating a safe and high-quality playground flooring that will exceed children’s mental and physical needs.