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.

Why Soft Play is a Great Indoor Activity for Rainy Days

Keeping children occupied and encouraging them to be active can be difficult, especially when the temptation of passive screen time is never far away. This becomes even more apparent on days when the weather is bad and the ability to play outdoors is limited. Rather than surrender to the world of television and console games, soft play centres offer plenty of indoor activities to keep children occupied even on the dreariest of days.

1. Develops Physical Skills

One of the biggest advantages offered by soft play centres is that they help develop a range of physical skills in children. Soft play centres come equipped with an excellent array of playground equipment including slides, climbing frames, and other structures. When children play on these apparatus, they improve their motor skills as well as balance, strength, and coordination. Best of all, soft play activities are not limited by the weather, so children can develop these abilities at any time of the year.

2. Inspires Creativity and Imagination

Another major benefit of using soft play centres is how they help to stimulate a child’s sense of imagination. Soft play centres are designed specifically to engage with a child’s mind and help foster their creative spirit. Through soft play, children can create their own imaginative scenarios, act out their favourite stories, and create their own games. What’s more, children can find inspiration for their creative talents without the need to go outside.

 

3. Increases Social Interaction

The ability of children to interact safely with their peers is one of the most important factors in the early development of social skills. Soft play centres allow children to make friends and interact with each other in a safe and supervised environment. Through social interaction, children learn how to form friendships as well as important concepts such as sharing and taking turns. As such, soft play activities are a great way to help children develop the skills they need to function in society.

4. Stimulates the Senses

Sensory stimulation is often beneficial to a child’s sensory processing and cognitive development. Fortunately, this is an area where soft play centres can offer a variety of options when it comes to stimulating the senses. Soft play areas are often designed using a variety of textures, colours and shapes, plus items that make certain sounds when touched or interacted with. This helps build a child’s cognitive skills, boosts concentration and focus, and improves visual and auditory awareness.

5. Provides Convenience

Best of all, being indoors means that soft play centres can operate even when the weather is at its worst. For children, there are plenty of indoor activities available that will keep them active and occupied without the need for going outdoors. In addition, parents can make use of the café facilities, and enjoy a coffee and a bite to eat while their children have fun in a safe and stimulating environment.

Conclusion

Soft play offers the perfect solution for keeping children occupied and active even on rainy days. Children can build their physical skills such as strength, balance and motor skills on the available soft play equipment while also developing their creativity and imagination with games and make-believe. It helps improve a child’s social skills through increased interaction and group play while also helping improve cognitive abilities by stimulating the senses. Finally, it offers a place for both children and parents to enjoy their time in a comfortable setting when the weather turns bad.

 

 

How to Plan the Perfect Soft Play Birthday Party

Planning a birthday party for your children can be exciting, but it can also seem overwhelming, even stressful. Some of the things you need to think about are where to start, what to focus on, how many and who to invite, what food to serve and how to make sure the event is going to be fun for everyone. One of the best things about birthday parties at soft play centres like Snakes & Ladders is that they can take all the hassle out of the planning. So here are some things to consider when planning a soft play birthday party and how Snakes & Ladders can help.

1. Select a Theme

One of the best ways to create an exciting birthday party is to come up with a theme that everyone will enjoy. Perhaps you want to go with a space theme surrounded by planets and stars? Maybe a disco party complete with fancy lighting and a dance floor? Once you have decided on a theme, you can plan elements such as party extras. When booking a birthday party with Snakes & Ladders, you can choose from several themed rooms in which to host your party. From our brightly coloured circus room, to spaceships, submarines, and discos, we can provide a themed party your children will be sure to love.

2. Choose a Venue

While there are many options for venues to host children’s birthday parties, soft play centres like Snakes & Ladders offer everything you need to ensure all children have a great time in a safe and fun environment. By booking your party at Snakes & Ladders your children can enjoy two hours of excitement and adventure, finishing with delicious party food.

Simply choose one of our locations in either Abingdon, Brentford, or Dunstable, and select a themed party room, the number of guests, plus the date and time of the party. Once you have booked your party, we will handle the rest.

A £50 deposit is required to secure your date and room, and the final balance is due four days prior to the party, at which point you can make any final amendments.

3. Send out Invitations

The next thing to plan is who to invite to your child’s birthday party. Chances are your children will have a good idea of whom they want to come along and will help you draw up a list. Once you have a set list of friends to invite, you can begin sending out invitations. You can create your own personalised invitations that reflect the theme of your party or use one of the free downloadable invitations from the Snakes & Ladders website.

Remember to include details such as date and time, location, RSVP date, contact info and any extra details like what to wear and what they want to eat. Try to send your invitations out a month in advance to give everyone enough time to prepare.

4. Food

Lastly, you will need to decide on what food options to serve at the party. After burning off all their energy in our fun-filled playcentre, our host will lead your guests to their fabulously themed party room to enjoy their party meal. Keep in mind that children aren’t looking for anything too fancy when it comes to food, except maybe for the birthday cake.

Food choices such as pizza, chicken nuggets and chips will satisfy those hungry tummies. Snakes & Ladders can provide food for all party guests, plus unlimited orange/blackcurrant squash and water, with a delicious ice lolly for afters. Slush mocktails can be added to your package for that little something special. For the adults, why not add sandwich and cake platters for them to enjoy, too? Avoid the headache of preparing party bags by adding our sweet cups and/or cupcakes for an extra treat.

At the end of the party, the birthday child and their guests will leave with memories to treasure forever.

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