July 15, 2024

The Value of Obstacle Courses in Childcare for Early Development

Children love to play. They love to run and scream and climb and they absolutely love to tackle a task! One of the many ways in which to ensure that children get to do all of these things is to create an obstacle course within the childcare centre for children to tackle.

Obstacle courses don’t have to be created from very much – simply a set of cardboard tunnels, followed by soft pillows to climb over can be considered an obstacle course. If your childcare centre is fairly well-funded, you may want to consider large, rubberised shapes and tunnels to give the children a little more of a challenge. Make sure that you’re keeping it simple and safe to give the children a challenge in a safe manner.

Here are some of the ways in which obstacle courses play an important role in a child’s development.

Physical Fitness

It perhaps goes without saying that doing an obstacle course, no matter how simple the course, will increase your child’s physical fitness and utilise muscle groups that the child might not use on a daily basis. It will also use their knees, arms and legs to climb, crawl, push and pull. All of this oxygenates their blood and builds muscle in certain places, increasing their overall physical fitness. Despite being relatively low-impact, obstacle courses are a great way to make children fitter.

Increases Their Brain Power

Aside from the obvious physical benefits of an obstacle course, utilising this method also increases a child’s brain power. It teaches them how to think on the fly, it solidifies memory recall – particularly if the course can be changed around and modified – it also teaches them foresight and planning – as they may choose to examine the course beforehand to see if they can figure it out in their heads before venturing onto the course. In general, obstacle courses present children with a problem and then allow them to use their brains to problem-solve.

Development of Praxis Skills

Praxis is a word you won’t hear too often. But it refers to the finer motor skills and spatial awareness parts of our brains. These skills are developed at a young age, mostly with the help of an obstacle course – or some other type of navigational terrain. Crawling around a space is a great way for your child to develop praxis skills. Praxis refers to the ability to create a plan and then execute that plan. It requires intense use of our senses, planning and sequencing skills. Praxis skills are absolutely critical to a child’s development. Obstacle courses really help expedite this development.

Increases Bilateral Coordination

One of the things that children really struggle with at a young age is bilateral coordination. This is a fancy term for moving different body parts at the same time to complete a task. It’s what you’re doing when you leapfrog over a wall – moving your muscles and joints in your arms, legs, neck and feet at the same time to vault over that obstacle. The same is true in simpler obstacle courses – the functional movement of different muscle groups at the same time in a safe way is a fantastic way to increase your child’s coordination skills and improve motor function.

No matter where you’re looking for when it comes to your childcare, finding childcare in Busselton or around Australia doesn’t have to be complicated – just ensure that your child will be well looked after and that there’s an obstacle course, of course.