Not only do monkey bars allow for hours of fun and unstructured play, but they also play a key role in children’s development. Paediatric Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists, AIM Kids Therapy, use Growplay Monkey Bars in their therapy programs for a range of benefits and the development of many skills.
Fine Motor Skills
Children are exposed to an abundance of sedentary activities (i.e., screen time). With less focus on outdoor activities, children are lacking the opportunity to develop strength and other motor skills. More often teachers are noticing children are lacking fundamental fine motor skills, such as being able to hold a pencil.
Before children can develop fine motor skills, we need to help them develop stability centrally and in their large muscle groups, including their core and shoulder stabilisers. Play that involves swinging, hanging, and climbing are effective at developing these precursors.
Using Growplay Monkey Bars in our therapy programs enables children to develop their hand grip strength by holding up their whole bodyweight.
Monkey bars also help children to develop visual skills such as hand eye coordination, as they learn to swing from one bar to another. This is key for fine motor development.
Strength, Posture, and Muscle Development
The motion of swinging from one bar to another helps children strengthen and tone their whole body. Hands and arms are challenged through grasping and reaching, postural muscles develop endurance while keeping the trunk stable, and the legs help propel the body forwards towards the next rung.When a child has strong trunk muscles, they can sit at a desk for longer.
Hanging upside down on monkey bars for short periods of time can increase concentration levels. This position stimulates an area in the inner ear that detects body movement, a sensation that some children seek. Through meeting this quota, the child feels regulated and their concentration improves.
Monkey bars provide children with the opportunity to develop transferable skills.
The fun nature of monkey bars means that they are a great way for children to develop a positive attitude towards challenges. Monkey bars create opportunities for children to develop problem solving skills by helping them find creative ways to overcome obstacles.
When children can overcome these challenges, they develop a sense of achievement and increased self-confidence.
It is a significant day in a child’s life when they accomplish the monkey bars for the first time!
Monkey bars are great for encouraging children to take turns, play creatively and “make up” new game rules (e.g., pretending the ground is lava). Monkey bars allow children to play together for hours in an unstructured setting.
They also teach and encourage teamwork, by allowing children to help each other solve problems and overcome challenges together.
Playing on monkey bars is a simple and unique activity that ticks all boxes when it comes to addressing children's needs of physical activity and well-being.
Author: Senior Occupational Therapist Tessa Jones and the team from AIM Therapy for Children