As adults, we may view a child’s time playing on a playground as simply a way to burn off excess energy, an opportunity to get some fresh air, and a chance to use their “outdoor voices.” What you may not realize is that there are benefits of playgrounds for toddlers and preschoolers. Whether outside playgrounds or even indoor play spaces, they are tools for helping children reach important developmental milestones.
According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), toddlers and preschoolers should meet the following guidelines for daily physical activity to promote the development of gross motor skills:
- Toddlers (12-36 months old) should participate in at least 30 minutes of daily structured physical activity. Preschoolers (3-5 years old) should accumulate at least 60 minutes of structured physical activity each day.
- Children of all ages should engage in at least 60 minutes of unstructured physical activity each day.
- Children of all ages should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.
- Children should have access to indoor and outdoor play areas that meet/exceed safety standards for large muscle activities.
On U-GRO’s indoor and outdoor playgrounds, our friends participate in a variety of fun activities that get their hearts pumping, bodies moving, and muscles growing. They also allow friends to express themselves in a creative and imaginative way!
Get Physical for Gross Motor Skills
Gross motor development involves the development of the large muscle groups of a child’s body. Toddlers and preschoolers are at the age where gross motor development is really taking off. Between the ages of two- and five-years-old, your child will begin running, jumping, climbing, hopping, skipping and more! As they grow older, properly developed gross motor skills are also an important part of dressing themselves, building the stamina needed for handwriting and note taking, and even sitting properly in a classroom setting.
Participating in daily physical activity that promotes the qualities of strength, stability, flexibility, and endurance will keep your toddler or preschooler on track with their gross motor development. Luckily, most young children are bursting with energy and love to play, so meeting the recommended activity timelines should not be difficult. Here are some activities that parents and teachers can encourage in children, either in structured group play or unstructured free play.
- Building Strength – Children can ride a tricycle or riding toy, climb a play structure, or travel across a set of monkey bars.
- Building Stability – Children can walk a balance beam, play hopscotch, bounce on balance balls, or take part in wheelbarrow races.
- Building Flexibility – Teachers or parents can lead a session of children’s yoga or children can play on a ropes course, especially one that encourages a lot of stretching over and under.
- Building Endurance – Children can take part in dance parties, jump rope, play tag, or run through obstacles courses.
Schedule a visit at a U-GRO location near you to check out our amazing outdoor and indoor playgrounds designed to promote physical activity in toddlers and preschoolers and develop important gross motor skills.