Love it or hate it, if you have a child, you have likely spent your fair share of time at soft play. If you choose wisely and pick one that is accessible for their ability, you may even get the chance to consume a hot beverage. Alternatively, the space is too restrictive and your tot is bored within minutes or otherwise, there is too much challenge and you end up contorted within the cramp primary coloured maze trying to hoist them up.
Either way, I think soft play has lots of benefits. Whilst slurping a hot latte at a recent trip, I thought of six skills that my girls were developing from just from being there. I gave myself a little parental pat on the back and continued to drink my coffee knowing I was providing a valuable experience and not just taking the opportunity to practically ignore my offspring for nearly an hour.
So here they are – six skills your toddler will learn at soft play.
1) Determination: When everyone else has reached the summit, you are going to be motivated to get to the top too. You may have to try over and over but whatever is up there is going to be worth it. The look of pride when they finally realise that if they just put this foot here and pull there, that they can get up. Priceless.
2) Resilience: The sign may say up to age 5 but you know that is never abided by. Some boisterous seven year old will arrive and before they know it, they are getting barged past and knocked into as the oblivious child careers past them. These minor bumps are teaching them to keep going and not let little set backs put them off.
3) Patience: When the place gets busy, the chance to practise turn taking kicks in. One slide and five waiting children can be a recipe for meltdowns. It is also a good opportunity to watch others and negotiate your slot. There will always be one who wants to hog the slide and so patience is definitely a skill to be mastered.
4) Strength: Little arms and legs have to work hard to navigate the various challenges that soft play offer. Climbing over something that is the same height as you is no easy feat. I certainly couldn’t do it. Repeating these actions over and over as they go around the circuit, builds core strength and works all their muscles. It’s practically a workout.
5) Independance: After spending the last week within arms reach of Mummy, it’s good to break free. Climbing, exploring and crawling alone is great for testing new abilities and not relying on being helped. It’s so tempting to get in and push them up or follow them through and while they are tiny this may be necessary but soon enough, they’ll be able to do it alone.
6) Risk taking: Soft play often pushes little ones to challenge themselves and try something they haven’t done before. Climbing a ladder or swinging on a rope may pose a risk but in the relative safety of a padded play centre, it’s probably a risk worth taking.
When they learn something new
At this particular soft play, there was a large rope hoop that Emily was just too small to climb through. She tried again and again but just couldn’t do it. I was so proud to watch as another little girl crawled through a gap below and Emily followed. If I’d stepped in, she wouldn’t have figured this out. My girls surprise me every time we go to soft play with their new skills. What skills have your children learnt from soft play?
Read what your child will learn from a farm visit here.