Time to play

Bugz Playpark discusses the link between child development and free play

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Play is a universal language amongst children. Through play, children learn to use all their senses by touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and imitating actions they see from others. Free play, or unstructured play, is where children take the initiative to create stories around set activities without the guidance from a parent or adult close by.
 
Benefits of free play
A study conducted by an Australian National University found that allowing children to use their imaginations when playing was highly beneficial to language development. Clinical psychologist Sara Quinn supported this finding by including that when parents ask their children questions and allow them to direct the conversation, both share in the same attention for a longer duration.
 
Outdoor play is as important as imaginative play as your child strengthens their muscles and mobility whether it be through jumping off a rock or learning to navigate across the monkey bars. By simply taking your children outdoors or to a playpark, you are able to watch their confidence grow as they learn to take risks and explore the world around them. Angela Hanscom, a paediatric occupational therapist and author of Balanced and Barefoot, strongly believes that taking children outside to play comes with a host of confidence-boosting benefits.
 
“I have a son who is differently-abled and it is my responsibility to ensure that he is exposed to a variety of childhood activities and experiences. I try encouraging Damian to explore on his own and note how social interaction with other children builds his confidence, influences the way he engages with others, and spurs his eagerness to try new things” says Deirdré Gower, from Warrior on Wheels Foundation. “We often visit Bugz Playpark, where the layout and pathways make the playground accessible for wheelchairs; it makes it possible for a child like Damian to experience all areas of the park. For Damian, when in his motorised wheelchair, it adds a sense of independence and to act on his curiosity and go exploring the park, even if he isn’t able to get on and off rides or equipment by himself, he can still feel some sense of control by getting around where and when he wants to without the fear of uneven terrain.”
 
All parents should ensure that their children receive the best learning experience with each school activity and at home. By placing a focus on learning and free-play instead of technology, you instil confidence, trust and self-assurance in your child.
 
This playpark in the Western Cape offers a range of zones which are in the best interests of children 2–10 years old, fostering hands-on creative development. The playpark boasts a colourful indoor area filled with slides, educational boards and obstacles to keep attention spans going while allowing creativity to overflow. The outdoor area challenges little minds, builds motor skills and burns energy the fun way! “We aim to strengthen and develop core skills crucial to the growth of kids by incorporating educational boards which explain the skills your child is developing by fulfilling the set activity” says Lise Liebenberg, founder of Bugz Playpark.

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