Not only do monkey bars allow for hours of fun and unstructured play, but they also play a key role in children’s development. AIM Therapy for Children Senior Occupational Therapist Tessa Jones takes us through some of the reasons that paediatric OTs and physios regularly use monkey bars in their therapy programs.
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.
Fine 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.
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.