5 Reasons Why Soft Play is Great for Children’s Development

The benefits of indoor play on child development are now well recognised. It provides children with a safe and secure environment to develop creative skills, helps in language development and social skills, encourages critical thinking skills, and helps stimulate imagination and self-expression. In addition, it helps children physically, improving motor skills and reflexes, and has health benefits such as boosting bone density and increasing cardiovascular functions.

Both government organisations and parents agree that indoor soft play centres are important for a child’s mental, social, and physical development . Here are five big reasons why you should consider indoor soft play for your child.

1. Learning and Developmental Benefits

Although the physical benefits of children’s play centres are well known, many people are less aware of the learning and developmental benefits provided by these facilities. When compared with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework used in several early years learning environments, children up to the age of five reach all three of the listed prime development areas and at least two of the four specific development areas under indoor soft play. In addition, “free imaginative play” in these environments allows children to increase their executive function.

According to Howard Chudacoff, a leading children’s playwright, executive function is “…thought to be a better predictor of school success than a child’s IQ.” As such, indoor play facilities should be inextricably linked with the government’s strategy for child development across all areas.

2. Societal Benefits

In today’s environment, not every child has access to playgrounds, gyms, or other recreational facilities. Those who live in smaller dwellings such as flats, may be limited in what activities they can be involved in. One barrier to entry is the often high admission cost to recreational facilities. By keeping entry fees low, indoor play centres allow those from low-income households to access these facilities. Many centres provide healthy and cost-effective food options, which is beneficial for those working parents who might struggle to find time to prepare such meals themselves.

While indoor play has changed fundamentally over the years since introduced in 1982, the wider socio-economic benefits it continues to provide cannot be overlooked. In some areas, indoor play centres even act as de-facto community centres where no such facility is available and making indoor soft play centres a vital community resource for families of all types of socio-demographic backgrounds. It can even help create a better-educated population with improved levels of mental health in both children and parents alike.

3. Mental and Emotional Benefits

Indoor play facilities are important for improving a child’s mental health. When children are at play, they are less likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to current research. Ways that soft play can improve your child’s development include playing in a group environment, whereby children can develop social skills at their own pace.

Other ways include interacting with their physical surroundings that encourage children to develop their senses. This can in turn boost their imagination and creativity. Overall, soft play can be just as important for a child’s emotional and mental health as it is for their physical health.

4. Accessibility Benefits

One of the biggest things we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how important it is for everyone to have access to the same facilities. Loneliness and isolation can have severe long-term effects on children and access to soft play facilities is an important solution for families in need of an escape. Indoor play offers children and their parents space to let off steam and enjoy themselves, no matter their circumstances. In addition, being indoors means you can enjoy soft play facilities no matter what the weather is like. As such, investing in soft play facilities should be seen as a priority when it comes to the government’s children’s strategy.

5. Physical Health Benefits

Indoor play centres can play an integral part in increasing physical activity in children. They can be fun, stimulating environments that encourage children to be active, and they act as an additional form of exercise. Studies have shown that a child can burn up to 300 calories an hour while active on a play structure. With most parents spending on average two hours a visit to play centres, a child who visits once per week can lose up to 3.3 kg of fat per year.

This is important as a House of Commons research paper released in 2022 found that 22.3% of children aged between 4-5 years old are obese or overweight. This figure increases to 34.3% when children reach the ages of 10 to 14. As indoor play centres attract children up to the age of 12, they play a key role in providing a fun and healthy environment to use throughout the early years of their lives.

Conclusion

Indoor soft play centres offer a great number of benefits when it comes to children’s development. A core benefit is the physical health and exercise of children, which meets the government’s current daily recommendations. It is also important for mental health as well and helps to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety while improving creativity.

It assists in improving cognitive development, such as a child’s ability to think, comprehend, communicate, remember, imagine, and predict what could happen next. Children learn better coordination skills through soft play, and it can assist those with motor skills disorder (DCD) or special educational needs (SEN). It’s also a great place for children to learn social skills like how to interact with others while diminishing feelings of loneliness and isolation for children and parents alike.

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