Vestibular System: Bring Back Playground Equipment with a Little Danger

By: Integrated Learning Strategies

When I was in elementary school, we had an awesome playground. It was a massive wooden fortress with monkey bars and rings, multiple slides, tires to climb, bridges to cross, fire poles, and it was the perfect set up for playing tag. However, the current playground is a quarter of the size of the old one and has few low slides, very little to climb, no rings, no bars to dangle from, and tag is out of the question.

This has caused a rise in the reports of children with ADHD diagnoses and learning disabilities, and to hear kids proficient in school claiming it's boring. Playground free-play stimulates the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and coordination, but with the decrease in play, vestibular systems aren't getting the movement necessary for proper development.

Swinging/Rocking Swings are versatile and can be used to soothe an overactive or fidgeting child, stimulate the inner ear, and promote coordination. Monkey bars are also good for swinging, and the Barrel Roll is a giant tube children can climb in to rock back and forth.

Balancing Testing their balance is the only way for children to learn better balance, such as by using balance beams or stepping-stones to traverse or step across. Improved balance can help a child sit upright in their chair better and spend less time with their head on their desk. In the absence of a beam or other equipment, a balance board like a curb can be used to encourage children to try.

Jumping/Bouncing Trampolines are popular in backyards and trampoline parks are growing in popularity, with obstacle courses and fitness trampolines.

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