Playtime is traditionally seen as a chance to give children a break from the classroom. It is designed to help children burn off excess energy so that they can once again focus on their lessons when back in class. However modern thinking sees playtime as much more than just a break from the classroom; instead today the playground is used to help children learn skills that they can take into adulthood. One such skill is social skills.
Away from the structure of the classroom and with minimal adult supervision, it is during playtime that children learn to interact with their peers – making friends, resolving conflicts, and working as teams. In essence it is in the playground that children learn the social skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
One of the ways playtime has traditionally helped children to build social skills is through playground games. We all remember these games from when we were children and while at the time they just seemed like fun, in reality they helped us to learn how to organise ourselves into teams. As well as this, they teach children how to set out rules and follow them without being dictated to by adults.
There are ways you can encourage children to set up traditional playground games; for example ensuring that playground surfaces have markings that are ideal for these games. In addition to this, you can install sports and game equipment into playgrounds, which help to encourage children to take the initiative and set up their own games at playtime.
Installing adventure equipment into playgrounds helps to fire children’s imaginations. Fitness and adventure trails also encourage children to learn about teamwork and cooperation. Multi-play units, for example ones that include slides, climbing frames and bridges, encourage children to help each other and inspire one and other to try new games and face fears. At Fawns we supply a range of adventure equipment from tunnels to large multi-play units; making it easier for you to find the right type of equipment to encourage children’s social skills no matter the size of your playground or your budget.
Relax and talk
Developing children’s social skills does not always need to happen through play. Installing outdoor furniture that allows children to have a place to relax and talk also encourages the development of these skills. Outdoor seating areas do not need to be boring and can now include benches in the shape of logs and picnic tables that incorporate board games. There is also the opportunity to install undercover seating areas that provide shade in summer and shelter in winter.
Giving children a place to sit means that they have the chance to talk about their interests, families and hobbies; essentially helping them to build friendships away from the direct supervision of adults. This also helps children to build confidence and independence in communicating with their peers, a skill that they need to learn at this time of their childhood to help them establish friendships when they become older.