Six tips to getting the most out of your summer playground visits

A lot of children are currently on Summer vacation. Others will be in the next few weeks. My kids have two more weeks of school until they start their summer vacation.

Like most families we can’t afford to go on a “real” vacation. It’s not only a financial issue but also an issue with what to do with our five cats and our dog. We have no one that can come over and take care of them. A kennel would cost a small fortune and we’re not keen on the idea of a pet sitter.

To make the most of having the Summer months off from school my family makes frequent visits to the state parks and local playgrounds. My kids are getting too old for playgrounds now, but we still go because there are basketball hoops we can use and swings (you are never too old for swings :-) ).

When my children were younger a trip to the playground was the greatest thing ever. There is always so much to do at a playground.

It’s important for children to get at the very least an hour of play time each and every day. The summer months afford children the opportunity to get many hours of fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Playtime is also essential for developing skills like socialization, sharing and teamwork.

Here is an interesting article written by Liza Sullivan that offers tips on how to make the most out of your playground visits.

Six tips to getting the most out of your summer playground visits

by Liza Sullivan

As the national nonprofit KaBOOM! kicks off its 2012 Summer Playground Challenge — which challenges families to explore as many playgrounds as you can this summer and offers prizes for your playground visits — past Challenge participant Liza Sullivan has these six tips for playground-going parents:

1. Go in the rain. Suited up in their raincoats and umbrellas, my kids have a wonderful time jumping in puddles, racing down slippery slides, and catching raindrops on their tongues. You may want to bring along a change of clothes and some towels for getting everyone dry and warm when they are done.

2. Let your kids decide how and how long to play. We have great adventures walking to the parking lot, climbing trees, or playing with unconventional things along the way to the playground. Sometimes my kids play more on the metal seating surrounding a baseball field than they do at the playground. As playground equipment can be limiting, expand your options by giving your kids the time and space to play with objects and structures around, near, and on the way to the playground.

3. Let your kids take risks. I find that when I allow my children to climb high trees or take on a new physical challenge at the park, they do so safely, discovering their own limits. Although I often nervously watch, biting my tongue so as to not yell, “NO!”, the confidence and independence that they develop is well worth the bouts of anxiety.

4. Vary your parental role. Do you tend to hover or stay on the sidelines? Most of the time, I aim to give my children autonomy and freedom as they play. I love listening to their conversations with themselves or others and learning about them through their play. Other times, my children ask me to play along, or ask me for help introducing them to new children at the park. All these roles are important for you and your children.

5. Bring snacks, books, blankets, and art supplies with you. After some boisterous play time, I’ve found that my children enjoy extending their visit with more quiet transition time before heading home.

6. Use the photos and stories you collect to get other families outside. I was able to post some of my favorite photos in the children’s section of our public library, hoping to inspire other families to get out and explore our amazing parks this summer. Other parents have compiled lists of their favorite playgrounds to share with local media outlets or shared stories in letters to the editor.

How do you and your kids get the most out of your playground visits? Feel free to leave a comment and share your tips. I always love to hear from my readers.

One thing we always used to bring to the playground with us (aside from sunscreen) was bubbles and chalk. You can never go wrong with bubbles and chalk. :-)

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