Current research shows that school-age children today are currently less physically active when compared to previous generations. This is probably because we are running more rushed lifestyles where there is little time for exercise and outdoor activities. This quite concerning, however, in that we are guiding future generations to lead more sedentary lives. These days the focus is more on academics and even things like music and art are being squeezed into formal lessons instead of leaving room for expression and spatial awareness. The irony in this is that test scores are not improving even though academics is a priority in most schooling structures. This is because we are failing to realize just how important movement is in the learning environment. Movement is instinctive, it's natural and it should be encouraged. These days, when kids get a little antsy in class, we label them with a disorder and try to treat their "conditions" with medication. In reality, however, we forget to consider an underlying problem which is a lack of physical activity or play in our kid's lives.
Recent research suggests that the development of motor skills helps to facilitate academic readiness and learning. To add, many well-known health scientists and educators agree that movement helps children to raise their achievement levels, increase motivation, heighten levels of understanding, accelerate their learning time, and expands creativity through motor skills, music, and healthy diets. A dynamic and well-thought-out playground environment can only enhance a child's overall physical and mental health, making outdoor play more than just trivial fun.
Movement through play is a natural form of movement, with reason. An appealing outdoor play area encourages kids to explore the environment at their own pace. It also allows children to test their skills, try new ideas, and seek challenges that cannot be duplicated in indoor or more formal environments. This type of creative and free movement is crucial when it comes to the development of children as a whole. As parents, we all too often tend to see play as something that must be organized for it to be fun, but this takes away the opportunity for natural learning, a process whereby kids learn best. Therefore, we need to create playgrounds that offer a variety of experiences so that to full physical and mental capabilities can be met.
Of course, movement experiences should be developmentally age appropriate so that we do not encourage kids to exert themselves with exercises that are beyond their capabilities. Instead, we should allow children to develop skills gradually as they grow. Even as humans, we develop physical and mental skills in sequence, which begins long before we are even born. As a baby moves in the womb, he is not just trying to get comfortable, he is actually starting to develop movement patterns.
Age is not the only indicator of physical development, however. Because children learn sequentially, they should be introduced to various levels of physical exercise as their skills develop. Parks, jungle gyms and play equipment should be designed accordingly. Playgrounds should offer areas for running, ball play, bike riding and should also include traditional playground equipment that appeals to the different age groups and skill levels. Take a look at the wide variety of jungle gyms Durban Poles has to offer.