The Power of a Playground
To the naked eye, a playground is just a place to go down the slide, swing on the swings, walk across the monkey bars, and run around. But, to a therapist, a playground is so much more! There are so many benefits to children playing on a playground, and it is a great way to disguise practicing therapy skills! Here are a few ways a playground can help your child build strength, balance, and coordination while having a lot of fun!
- Slide: Typically, children go down the slide. This requires abdominal strength to remain upright. The fast speed challenges the vestibular system. This input can be great for children who are sensory seekers. It is also fun to climb up the slide. Climbing up requires arm, leg, and core strength and coordination. It can also stretch the muscles on the back of the leg.
- Swing: A swing provides a lot of input for the vestibular system. The motion of moving back-and-forth can be very calming as it assists with regulation. The swing also takes abdominal and postural strength to remain upright. Finally, pumping one’s legs to move the swing takes coordination.
- Monkey bars: The monkey bars take strength and coordination. Not only do children have to hang onto the bars, but they also have to coordinate their swing when moving one of their hands to the next bar.
- Stairs: Often times, the stairs on a playground are a slightly lower height than typical stairs, making them easier to complete. This is a great place to practice balance and strength, especially when the stairs at home are too big
- Bridges: Lots of parks have wobbly bridges, which are great for challenging balance.
- Open space: There is often space to run around. This space provides an area to challenge one’s speed with running. If you have multiple children, they can have different races in the open space. Get creative as they can do animal walks and other types of races.
- Social interactions: There are usually numerous people who are at the park. This provides a lot of opportunities for children to practice their social skills, such as saying “hello,” playing with others, and taking turns
- Sensory play: There are a lot of different surfaces and textures around a park from the wood chips to the grass to the railings. Children receive a lot of exposure to various surfaces at a park.
Below are a few parks in the area. Explore the city and visit parks you have not been to in order to continue challenging your children!
- Seneca Park
- Waterfront Park
- The Parklands of Floyds Fork
- P. Tom Sawyer Park
- Cherokee Park
- Iroquois Park
- Joe Creason Park
- George Rogers Clark Park
- Long Run Park
- Charlie Vettiner Park
- Brown Park
- Anchorage Park
- Des Pres Park
- Many neighborhoods have their own playset, so find the one closest to you!
Enjoy the summer months by having fun days at the park! Ask your therapists for suggestions specific to your child to make the time at the park therapeutic!