Early Childhood Development

The impact of park play on Early Childhood Development encompasses more than what meets the eye. Children learn and develop through play, so it is important to provide a wide range of activities for them in a play area. Variety will encourage them to explore and will provide opportunities for them to reach their full potential. Many play theorists base their work on an acronym, SPICE, which encompasses many aspects of development. SPICE stands for social interaction, physical activity, intellectual stimulation, creative achievement, and emotional stability. This acronym can be applied to the development of play areas to optimize the potential for childhood development through play. For example, SPICE can be used to assess the developmental potential of a simple activity such as digging a hole in the sand of a play space. The child can express creativity in the way he or she goes about digging. They could be digging for treasure, skeletons, or digging to the center of the earth. As the purpose for digging evolves, intellectual stimulation can occur and result in the development of new motives for digging in creative ways. Through body language and emotion, they can send cues to other children to engage with them and even involve adults by asking them to help enlarge the hole or prevent it from caving in. The endless possibilities of motives for digging a simple hole provide opportunities for self-expression, exploration, experimentation, innovation, social interaction, and creativity that are essential for healthy development.



A flexible environment can promote SPICE into a playground’s surroundings. It is crucial to create a flexible environment to encourage the development of flexibility and creativity in problem solving. The level of flexibility that a child develops affects their ability to solve problems and the level of control that they are able to exercise when faced with difficult situations. In a flexible play area, children have the freedom to experiment. This leads to the development of positive feelings and self-confidence. They become more confident to take risks and their reactions to day-to-day problems become more varied. The positive feelings and experiences encountered throughout childhood enhance self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-acceptance (Brown & Ebrary Academic Complete, 2002).