Children are incredibly impressionable and vulnerable members of our society. With little life experience, most children quickly pick up new behaviours from those around them, taking on lessons learnt through their own experience as well as through observing others.
Most children spend the majority of their time at school, making the school environment one of the most important for their young minds. Of the locations within the school environment, the playground plays a huge role in child development, health and all-round wellness in multiple different ways, all of which we will cover in this post.
To start with, one of the primary purposes of a school playground is to give the children a space where they can exert energy, test the physical capabilities and develop physically. Considering the World Health Organisation claims that worldwide obesity has tripled since 1975, it’s clear that school playgrounds and encouraging children to challenge themselves physically is key to a healthy lifestyle in the future.
Regardless of the age of the students and the location of the school, engaging and exciting school playground equipment is key for helping children to grow and develop their physical wellness. It’s our responsibility to bring the most out of the future generation and create school playgrounds which grab the attention of young minds and hold it long enough for them to engage and enjoy themselves.
Social wellness is an often-overlooked benefit of a well-designed school playground. By definition, social wellness is about building and developing positive relationships with others. In schools filled with cliques and social hierarchy, it’s essential that children learn how to handle other people in a positive manner and they practice these abilities in the playground.
An effective playground should have dedicated social spaces like benches and meeting points where students can interact with each other and develop their social skills. Some concepts are quite difficult to teach using formal educational means like empathy, body language and mutual respect. Instead, these lessons have to be learnt by students in their own time – usually in the playground.
With improved social wellness, students feel more comfortable in their environment and themselves, knowing that they have a support network of people who they are close to. Ultimately, this leads to improved achievement and attainment which is the goal of every school.
Finally, we have emotional wellness, which has been a huge talking point over the last decade. Emotional wellness is about how well students can handle their feelings and behaviours, as well as how easy it is to deal with stress and accept that even in the worst situations, things will get better.
For many students, stress can quickly become overwhelming with one study even highlighting that 45% of high school students think they are stressed all the time. This is a clear indication that emotional wellness is proving a challenge for these young people and one of the most effective ways of dealing with it is an effective school playground.
By giving students a space to cool off, speak to friends and do things they enjoy, you are giving the children time to deal with their feelings effectively, without getting overwhelmed by the scope of their problems. Obviously, there is more to encouraging emotional wellness than just an effective playground, but it makes a great start.
Overall, there’s no doubt that having a well-designed school playground is a brilliant way of ensuring that students are healthy and engaged. Regardless of whether you are a parent, a teacher or a student, try to help those around you look after themselves as the very act of helping others can be brilliant for your own well-being.