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How to encourage active play with a Multiplay system

January 29, 2019

As technology becomes more embedded in our daily lives, children’s screen time is increasing. This, of course, is not all bad news, as interacting with technology can help support social interaction and communication skills, and can also give parents a much needed break!

The increase of screen time, however, has led to a fall in children’s physical activity, which remains a vital part of a child’s development. The Association of Play Industries (API) recently commissioned a report on children’s increased inactivity, which found that “children have never moved so little”, with “substantial evidence” to suggest that screens are a key reason for this.

Active play offers a solution to this growing concern, but what is active play, and how can it be encouraged?

What is active play?

Active play encompasses various types of physical activity, which require the use of different key muscle groups throughout the body. Activities such as running, catching or jumping can increase heart rate and breathing, which is important for promoting physical fitness, and helps to stimulate muscle growth too.

By around the age of two, children are more and more confident on their feet, able to walk around comfortably and are ready to progress to the next phase of their physical (and social) development. The types of physical activity associated with active play are so important to children at this age, as it helps them to develop their fundamental movement skills, such as coordination and balance.

Studies suggest that it’s important for children to be active for at least 60 minutes every day, which can be spread out into small play sessions across the day. As long as there are regular bursts of moderate to vigorous physical activity, active play can take place anywhere – both indoors and outdoors.

The benefits of playing outside

While active play can take place anywhere, playing outside in playgrounds has numerous additional benefits for children. Outdoor active play offers greater space and freedom for kids to explore and enjoy.

According to the API Chair Mark Hardy,

“Play is such a huge part of a child’s development and playgrounds are a much-needed resource that are sadly under threat.”

The API’s report argues for both a greater investment in outdoor playgrounds and a limit on screen time to ensure children are not deprived of vital developmental playtime.

Outdoor playgrounds are so important for a number of reasons. Firstly, these areas are larger and allow children more room for a wider range of movement and exercise. When outside, kids are able to quickly change pace and move in different directions to increase their heart rate, and learn skills such as climbing, hopping, or skipping that help improve balance and coordination.

Using children’s playground equipment also engages different sets of large and small muscle groups, and allows kids more space and freedom to learn how their bodies move and respond to different tasks.

Finally, the great outdoors allows children to explore nature, get some fresh air, and make plenty of noise too!

The other benefits of active play

In addition to the numerous physical benefits associated with active play, there are also a range of additional benefits for children as well. An important aspect of active play is to encourage activity whenever possible, outside of specific time limits.

This encourages children to have creative freedom over their play time, allowing them to try new things, be imaginative with their time, and enjoy being active at their own pace. Active play is therefore crucial to children’s development in a number of ways.

Firstly, this type of play helps to encourage and develop children’s imagination and creativity, which also leads to increased self-belief and self-confidence.

Similarly, the creativity associated with active play has an important role in the development of a number of crucial emotional skills for children, such as resilience, independence and problem-solving. Active play also helps children learn to express their feelings, improving their emotional maturity while laughing and having fun.

Outdoor active play also offers additional social benefits to kids, who are able to mix with other children in playgrounds. This helps them to develop key social and communication skills, such as an understanding of social rules, the ability to work alongside others, and patience as they may have to wait their turn.

Children can hopefully make friends through playing, gaining a sense of belonging while developing their burgeoning communication skills. Taking children to playgrounds also helps introduce them to kids from different cultural backgrounds or with disabilities, giving them a greater understanding of other people.

Children are naturally inquisitive, curious and eager to get stuck in, and active play uses this nature to develop key physical, emotional and social skills.

Encouraging active play through a multiplay system

Multiplay equipment is designed to inspire and engage children through varying styles of play and activity. The different challenges within multiplay children’s playground equipment provides plenty of different physical and cognitive challenges, and helps to encourage active play for kids.

Wicksteed’s multiplay and modular playground equipment combines various themes to ignite children’s imaginations. In our castle-themed multiplay systems, children can be kings, queens and knights, while our mystical world playground sets utilise bright designs, curves and bends to ignite the imagination.

The variety within a multiplay system is particularly beneficial for encouraging active play, as it offers numerous physical tasks for children to perform. In navigating around the equipment, children activate different muscle groups organically, gaining the various physical benefits associated with active play.

The vibrant designs and creative combinations of the children’s playground equipment within our multiplay systems also helps to stimulate children’s imaginations, and the various different sizes of these sets makes them perfect for playing alongside other children in parks of any size.

Active play is an important part of children’s physical, emotional, and social development, and, as the API argues, is increasingly vital in a technology-driven world. A multiplay system helps to encourage this essential development through providing a range of physical and creative experiences for children to enjoy.

Written by: Andy Prentice
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