Playgrounds and parks are a safe haven to parents of young children. They’re a place to let your child run, explore, and “get their wiggles” out in a safe environment. However, playgrounds offer so much more than just a place to get your child’s energy out! Here are the top 5 reasons you should take your child to the park:
Children Gain RESILIENCE.
The world is so big to little children. A 5 foot climbing rock looks manageable to us, but to a four year old, it looks like a mountain. And yet, they try to climb it anyways. Yes, they may get scared. Yes, it may take them 15 minutes to get to the top. But bravery and resilience is persevering even when you’re scared. Even if you don’t succeed.
Children learn COOPERATION.
Children have to work together, communicate, and be empathetic when playing together on the playground. Countless times I’ve witnessed children encouraging each other, demonstrating a challenging task, and helping each other up when they fall. The beauty of friendship and human connection that happens on the playground is breathtaking.
Children gain RISK ASSESSMENT.
When children are able to takes risks, they have a better understanding of safety. Too often children are protected by parents and this can lead to one of two outcomes: either the child is greatly timid and lacks the confidence to try things on his/her own, or the child is overly risky and seems to lack a sense of danger. Allowing children to try “risky” activities without interference enables them to have a greater understanding of their own abilities and comfort level. Teacher Tom wrote an amazing article here. The playground offers your child a place to take risks, learn their own comfort level, and build self confidence.
Children gain ABDOMINAL MUSCLES and develop their VESTIBULAR SYSTEM.
What is vestibular system? And why do we worry about our children having abdominal muscles? The vestibular system is your child’s sense of balance. You can learn a lot more about it here. Your child’s strong vestibular system coupled with developed abdominal muscles will help your child SIT still in school. You know how it feels to work out a muscle group that you haven’t used in a while? That’s how your child feels once they go to school and are asked to sit for longer periods of time.
Think about the act of swinging, climbing, and running. All these work to strength your child’s muscles, and will help your child’s sense of balance.
Children learn SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL SKILLS.
This corresponds with the cooperation children learn. Social and emotional skills are one developmental domain parents have a hard time working on with their child. And for a good reason: you’re not a peer. Children need conflict with peers in order to figure out conflict resolution skills.
Yes, please teach your child skills to bring to the playground such as sharing, taking turns, manners and how to express their needs/wants. And the first time a child pushes in front of them in line at the playground will be a new learning experience for your child!
So I’ve now sold you on taking your child to the park. And you pledge to your self that you will.
Great! Make it a weekly occurrence. I’ve started incorporating “Park Monday” into my childcare program! Every Monday we visit a different park/playground in a 15 mile radius from my center. It’s a great way to give children the opportunities parks and playgrounds offer without children becoming bored of the same equipment week after week.
Take the challenge: incorporate a park in to your weekly routine!