Why are we doing Soft Play

09 November 2012

A soft play facility is one where children can play, explore and learn in an environment that encourages their physical, emotional and intelectual development.  Using soft play encourages children to be active whilst exploring and learning in a fun environment. For the YMCA a soft play facility provides a great tool to help us achieve our charitable purposes, allowing children and young people to develop in body, mind and spirit. Soft play is not simply an activity that produces a financial return that can be reinvested in core activities but rather it is a new core acitivity of its own.

The benefits of soft play are:

  • Research has shown that children who are regularly involved in active play develop well on many levels, including physical, emotional, mental and social. Where baby gym mostly focuses on organised activities and interaction, the idea behind soft play is for children to use their imagination and get involved in exploratory play
  • The soft play apparatus is, as the name suggests, ideally designed to be soft so that it’s safe for children to play on. At many soft play centres, there are multi-levels of play activities, including climbing frames, slides, ball pools, crawl tubes, rope bridges and scramble nets. Children can dive in and get exploring on their own, with friends or interact with other children who are already there and playing.
  • Active and exploratory soft play helps children learn new motor skills in a fun and stimulating environment. It helps develop physical activity and encourages children to enjoy exercising, but as it is essentially play it feels fun and exciting for them.
  • Children who are working through emotional issues or dealing with the aftermath of traumatic events are often encouraged to engage in play therapy as a means of expressing themselves. Children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may also be directed towards play therapy in order to learn more about appropriate behaviours and gain a sense of themselves.
  • Official Government advice is that children need to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day that gets their heart beating faster than usual. And they need to do it every day to burn off calories and prevent them storing up excess fat in the body which can lead to cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It also keeps their bones healthy and encourages muscle strength and flexibility. Soft Play is a great, fun way of introducing physical activity to a Child’s lifestyle.
  • The government’s Early Years Foudation Stage framwork states that “All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive…. Physical development involves providing opportunities for young children to be active and interactive; and to develop their co-ordination, control, and movement. Children must also be helped to understand the importance of physical activity
  • According to Play England soft play .. could be as important for children's wellbeing as for their enjoyment. Access to good play provision is good for children's health. The organisation's senior communications officer Ken Ryan indicated that play and physical activity are very closely linked, which is why it's important.
  • The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) say that play is important for children’s well-being and development. …..The HSE fully recognises that play brings the world to life for children.  It provides for an exploration and understanding of their abilities; helps them to learn and develop; and exposes them to the realities of the world in which they will live….The opportunity for play develops a child’s risk awareness and prepares them for their future lives.Soft play provides the ideal opportunity to provide play in a controlled ‘risky’ environemnt thereby helping children grow and develop.
  • The Play Providers Association (PPA) represents the highest quality indoor play centres in the UK. The PPA is championing the benefits of indoor play in children and is supporting the Governments Change 4 Life campaign. Taking your kids to a playcentre is a fantastic way to give them their 60 active minutes and its all "Exercise in Disguise" as the kids are just having great fun... Running, Jumping, Climbing, Sliding... Play is what kids do best!!
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