What Is Soft Play Equipment?
Soft play equipment is pieces of play equipment for younger children which are soft or spongey to the touch. Examples of indoor soft play equipment are soft shapes that children can play with or small-scale obstacle courses made with soft padding. Sometimes soft play items can make play zones safer because they have a secondary use of cushioning any accidental bumps or trips.
Sometimes people confuse soft play equipment with indoor playgrounds. The former is individual pieces of play equipment while an indoor playground refers to whole play structures often used by older children. You may find soft play equipment inside large play structures.
The Importance of Soft Play in Early Years
In our children’s earliest years, they develop a wide range of cognitive skills, including elementary problem-solving skills. Soft play equipment can contribute to skill development exceptionally well because it immerses the child into a setting where they have to think for themselves on how to overcome mini obstacles, solve simple puzzles and much more.
Soft play equipment is also able to develop simple motor skills in young children. Some smaller soft play obstacles could be tunnels or bridges where the children have to work out the best ways to move through the tunnel or over any soft obstacles. Overall, it helps children learn to crawl, walk, bend down, roll over and succeed in other movements.
Some children may experience difficulty with motor skills because of disabilities, which makes soft play equipment even more beneficial for those children.
How Does Soft Play Help Children’s Social Skills?
Young children may have difficulty working as a team or communicating with others. This can be a normal process of growing up, or it could be attributed to certain disabilities such as autism.
Indoor soft play equipment can contribute to developing skills in communication and working as a team. Some equipment is designed in ways to present problems and for the children to figure out the puzzle together. Our earlier example of soft play shapes is an example here too. Children may have to rearrange the soft shapes into spaces or a sequence.
It is common for children to take on these tasks and challenges together and communicate on the ways to do it best. Thus, some soft play equipment creates the right situations that can help children develop social skills.
How Can Soft Play Tackle Obesity?
According to official statistics released by the NHS, children in the UK are the most likely in Europe to develop weight problems and suffer from obesity. There could be an array of factors that make UK children more susceptible to obesity than neighbouring countries, but one of them is the UK’s rainy climate.
Children in the UK often get stuck indoors because the weather makes it unappealing to play outside. Of course, this is not always a problem and many children love to splash around in puddles and run around in colder temperatures. However, parents are usually less inclined to supervise outside when the weather is gloomy, and children end up indoors with little room for physical activity.
But soft play equipment in private or commercial settings can help tackle this problem. They provide safe indoor spaces where children can remain active and stay away from technology long enough to get a little sweaty. Many types of soft play equipment also need to be carried by the children, which increases their activity levels while playing.
Where Can You Usually Find Soft Play Equipment?
Soft play equipment and soft play zones are usually found in nurseries and schools. These venues design soft play areas for the reasons we outlined above. They are critical for early years development and may improve social skills and teamwork. These spaces don’t just help children in these venues, but they also help teachers and supervisors to work with children and make their job easier.
Soft play equipment is also found in commercial play centres where parents take their children during leisure time. Soft play zones in these venues enable the venue to cater to younger children as well as older children running riot on rope bridges and diving into ball pools.
Other places you might find soft play zones are in waiting rooms and shopping centres. These provide all the same benefits previously mentioned, but they contribute to the commercial success of stores. By creating these zones, it attracts more consumers to use the surrounding businesses.
How Versatile Is Soft Play Equipment?
There are so many reasons to include soft play equipment in any of the aforementioned locations, but there is another reason this type of play equipment is so popular. Soft play equipment is extremely versatile. Unlike larger play structures, soft play equipment can be transported easily and rearranged to make new play zones from the same equipment.
This makes it especially popular among play centres that want to give their spaces a new twist, which goes down well among children who have ongoing play centre memberships.
How Can Soft Play Contribute to PE Curriculums?
Soft play equipment is becoming more common in primary schools and nurseries. These places recognise that soft play equipment can be a valuable addition to develop motor skills, teamwork and critical thinking, and they are using it within Physical Education sessions.
Not all early years PE classes need to include soft play equipment, but with the right group and at the right age, it can make PE safer and even more beneficial.
Where Can I Buy Soft Play Equipment?
Right here! House of Play is an experienced and trusted provider of some of the best soft play equipment in the UK. Speak to our team to find out how we can help create you a bespoke soft play area.