Swing sets, even playground swings, are a whole lot of fun for kids, and have been for a long time, with ancient cave drawings, vases and carved figures from times long gone by featuring the activity. There was even a time when swings were predominantly used by rich adults in the 1700’s, and were a sign of wealth and nobility.
These days, we mainly see swing sets in playgrounds and play areas, and the playground wouldn’t be much without them, would it? They’re an essential feature of any outdoor play space, but what you may not know is that swings are much more than fun, they actually have a lot of added benefits. In fact, they can play a helpful part in your child’s development.
Why Are Swings Important For Childhood Development?
“They are not just playing in nature, they are: learning, creating, sensing, believing, relaxing, exploring, observing, wondering, connecting, discovering, appreciating, understanding, experimenting.”
Swings naturally help balance out disruptions in the inner ear, helping to balance potential sensory disruptions that can be challenging for some children. The repetitive back and forth movement of the swing is also soothing. This combined ability to provide balance and calm is the reason lots of children with sensory issues can benefit from swings, and therapeutic centres for children with sensory issues and disabilities may feature indoor swings.
Swings help improve the bond between a parent and child, or teacher and child, as there is trust in allowing you to push them during a time they may feel vulnerable because they are off the ground. Children who are a little older may then need to communicate to share swings, and if they are using a basket swing – which can hold more than one child – communicate to get it moving and to help each other on and off.
Gross & Fine Motor Skills Development
Gross motor skills are the skills that children use to move around. It relates to their entire bodies and especially the larger muscles of the centre, legs and arms. Kids start to use their whole body to try to move around right from being babies, slowly going from little wiggles, to rolling over, to crawling, to walking. When children use the swings, they use their core and arms to hold onto the swing and to balance, whilst also using their legs to create the swinging motion.
Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles in relation to the brain, and how things like the fingers, hands and wrists are coordinated to enable a child to do different things. With swings, this could be using their fingers to help grab the seat and chain to get onto the swing, or to hold onto the chains as the swing moves. With younger children this could even be holding onto the bar of a cradle swing for support and balance.
Swinging helps a child learn or develop where their body is in space, in relation to other children, or in relation to the swing itself. The development of the sensory system helps children to adapt to the different sensations they experience as they play and go through life, especially with bodily awareness and how they experience the world around them and how it feels, smells, looks and sounds.
A Working Machine
Swinging involves the use of various different parts of the brain and body. Leg movement, spatial awareness, rhythm, measured risk – there are so many working parts to the action of swinging. For that reason, overall brain development is stimulated with this particular activity, which is unlike any other in the skills required to make it happen.
Time In Nature
Swings can be indoors, but often you will find them in outdoor playgrounds. This means that they encourage children to spend time in nature, to spend time outside in the fresh air enjoying time away from screens. This is an added bonus of being on the swings and any playground equipmentx, one that provides its own set of specific benefits for growing children. One study showed that after time in nature, children demonstrate an increased state of wellbeing and health, as well as a boosted connection to nature. If swings encourage children to spend more time outside, it can only be a good thing.
Although swings aren’t as encouraging for imaginative play as mud kitchens or adventure towers, they do still provide a level of inspiration to host the games children naturally create. For example: swings can be boats whilst sharks are in the ‘sea’ below. Imaginative play is essential for childhood development helping with anxiety reduction and the development of academic skills, reasoning skills, emotional expression and regulation, and the improvement of focus and attention.
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.”
Henry David Thoreau
If you would love to have swings in your playground area, do make sure you speak to a professional play equipment company when it comes to supply and installation. The more high-quality the equipment is, the safer and more durable it is, and the longer children can benefit from the set. If you are a school or managing a public playground, high-quality play equipment can also help with winning grants, and with legal compliance in relation to health and safety. Experienced companies will also offer professional swing set and playground checks too, at an extra cost.
Why not speak to a trusted play equipment company today to find out more about the different swing set options available to you so you can work towards enhancing the play and development options of the children in your care?