Active play refers to any activity or game played by
children that requires the use of physical movements, giving children the
opportunity to develop physically, while also offering some mental development
benefits. While active play has always played a large role in the development
of young children, it is particularly important to make time for it as children
become increasingly sedentary. Not only is childhood obesity becoming a growing
concern but by spending time indoors, children can be deprived of the vital
benefits offered by active play.
The most obvious benefit of active play is that it supports
the development of both fine and gross motor skills. Through various active
games and the use of playground equipment children not only strengthen their
muscles but also improve their balance, coordination and flexibility.
Additionally, studies have proven that children who engage
in physical play and are active from a young age are likely to maintain those
levels of physical activity later in life, improving their levels of fitness
long after they have grown out of active play.
Although it is talked about less than the physical benefits
of active play, children can also learn valuable social skills and improve
their confidence as their physical abilities improve.
As school playgrounds and public areas are the most common
areas for children to engage in active play time, they become places where they
hone their social skills as they share the
playground equipment with their
peers and learn how to play together and take turns.
Active play can also improve concentration and learning,
which in turn can boost productivity and academic success. Like physical
activity in adults, getting active helps children with their emotional and
mental wellbeing, relieving stress and releasing mood-boosting endorphins.
How to Encourage
The simplest way of encouraging physical play is by making
Children are naturally curious, always wanting to explore
new places and learn new things so it’s important to present active play as a
reward, rather than a punishment. Often children are pushed into active play as
a break from screen time, which can make them feel like they are being punished
and paint active play in a negative light.
Some fun active play ideas include nature
treasure hunts, using a variety of different playground equipment, running
games, and obstacle courses. You can also engage children in indoor active play
activities, perfect for those rainy days or when it’s too cold to spend
extended time outdoors. Some fun active play games that can be played indoors
includes musical chairs, follow the leader, hide and seek, and even an indoor
obstacle course if you have enough space.