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Take it outside! The benefits of outdoor play

Playgrounds are more than just a place to have fun; they also provide a great opportunity for your child to develop their gross motor skills through play. There are many parks around Perth which have a variety of equipment that can help your child develop their balance, lower limb strength and fitness.

In this article, Therapy Focus Advanced Clinician Physiotherapist, Sulin Ng, suggests activities to incorporate into your child’s play routine next time you’re at the park.

Activities that challenge your child’s balance:

  • Kicking a ball
  • Walking along steeping stones. Your child may need a helping hand initially. As they improve, decrease the amount of hand held assistance, until they can complete this activity independently

Activities to develop your child’s leg strength and fitness:

  • Walk to the park, or park your car a distance away from the park and walk from there
  • To progress walking ability, increase distance walked and decrease time taken to walk the distance

Running:

  • Play chasey
  • Chase after birds

Bike riding:

  • Ride to the park or bring the bike and do a few laps along the paths
  • Ride up slopes to improve leg strength

Stairs:

  • Encourage your child to be as independent as they can on the stairs. Provide as much assistance as they require so that your child is safe on the stairs, such as one hand held by parent, one hand on the rail. Allow them more independence as they improve
  • Remember that children tend to develop the ability to walk upstairs before they can go down

Climbing:

  • Start with static and simple ladders, then slowly progress onto  challenging ‘wobbly’ climbing ropes
  • Provide hand over hand assistance and lots of verbal encouragement

For more information about the best parks in Perth, including their facilities, visit Kids around Perth, Buggy Buddy’s or A Coffee in the Park. To find parks that provide playground equipment accessible for wheelchair users visit Inclusive Play Space. For more ideas about outdoor activities visit Natureplay WA.