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It’s summer here in Manitoba and it’s HOT! If I’m honest, it’s not my favourite time to go to the playground. I prefer going out in the spring and fall when the weather is mild. But, there are good reasons why you should take your kids to the park, so out we go.
Yesterday we decided to hit up the Assiniboine Park’s Nature Playground in Winnipeg. Unfortunately it was about 32 degrees outside (90 F), so we didn’t stay long before we walked over to the café to get an ice cream cone.
Why You Should Take Your Kids to The Park
Although I don’t recommend going during a heatwave, taking your kids to the park is more than just getting out of the house. It’s actually important for their overall development, too. Playgrounds create a safe environment to move their bodies.
They learn risk assessment skills
One thing I really like about the nature playground is it’s something I would call “dangerous”. It has a crow’s nest that’s quite high into the air, and the only way up is climbing the webbing ladder. It has huge, open slides that you can race down (a lot bigger than most playgrounds). And it has a lot of intentional areas for kids to move around like tree stump paths and steep hills.
Of course, it’s all done safely. We’ve been going for years and no one’s ever gotten any more hurt than they would at any park.
Dangerous playgrounds help kids learn risk assessment skills in a safe way. They learn how far they can jump, how high they can climb, and what happens when you fall. Kids then apply those skills to the rest of their lives and your little daredevils actually stay safer in the process.
An early start to physical fitness
Everyone needs more exercise in today’s society. Adults are definitely, on average, pretty sedentary. The older you are, the more difficult it is to start a new habit, too. I know I personally am not as active as I want to be. Some of that is my work (lots of time in a chair), but some is just want I enjoy doing. I don’t have a lot of active hobbies.
Taking your kids to the playground is a great early start to physical fitness habits. Yes, they’re playing, but they’re also getting really good exercise in. By making fitness a habit now, you at least are laying the foundation for better health later.
Plus you can cut down on screen time and increase physical activity really easily?
A chance to play with others or siblings
There weren’t a lot of kids at the park when we went because it was the middle of the week and very hot. So my kids played with each other instead, which was plenty fun for them.
Playgrounds are a great place to build social interaction for kids. But, it also helps them develop skills to navigate those complicated peer relationships in their lives. Learning to take turns at the slide, what happens when someone pushes you, or the rules to tremors all happens at the park.
They’ll be more confident in themselves
I have seen it over and over again with my kids. Kids that are too scared to go down the slide eventually take that leap. One that don’t know how to swing finally learn how to pump their legs. Everything that kids do at a park has an effect on their emotional development and self confidence.
Parks give kids the tools to practice new skills. If you don’t frequent them, or hover over older kids, they’ll be missing out on this part of child development.
A safe way to play “alone” outdoors
Sometimes it’s fun to play with your kids, but you should also take the backseat at times too. Nowadays, kids aren’t allowed to ride their bikes to the park alone or walk to their friends’ houses as much. Kids use to develop independence doing those things in the past, but now we don’t allow children as much freedom.
Going to the playground gives kids a chance to learn some of those independent skills. That means if your child gets stuck, don’t rescue them right away. See if they can figure it out. Or make them come find you if they skinned your knee.
We can’t go back to the good old days of free range kids, but we can’t lose those skills either.
Just getting outside
Sometimes you just need to get out of the house! If you’re a stay at home mom, you know how taxing they days can be. Playgrounds can give mom a little break while the kids burn off some of their energy. There’s no mess to deal with after, too!
Being outdoors is a natural mood booster for everyone in the family.
Tips for when you take your kids to the park
- Unless they’re very little don’t hover
- Pack snacks/water/sunscreen/hat/etc so you can stay longer
- Keep it fresh and try out new parks
- Talk to your child about rules beforehand (especially if leaving is difficult)
- Give timed warnings before you leave
- Wash hands or hand sanitize after playing to prevent the spread of germs
Although most parents do take their kids to the park, I know I don’t do it enough. It sure was nice getting out of the house and we plan to go back again soon. (When it’s not too hot.) There’s just too many reasons why you should take your kids to the park to ignore.