The hustle and bustle of the holiday season are upon us. While this time of year can be joyous, it can also be stressful. One thing that shouldn’t be forgotten, though, is play!
While parents make their holiday to-do lists and check them twice, an item at the top of those lists should be play, as research confirms the multiple benefits, including children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive well-being. Staying motivated to get outdoors with busier schedules can be daunting, but the nicer days are dwindling, and every child deserves to spend them outside on the playground.
As children go out and play, the temperatures in many geographic regions will dip, so safety should be a priority – keeping kids safe, warm and dry. The following are helpful safety tips as we approach the winter season:
- Be aware of clothing hazards, like scarves, strings to hoods, and boot laces. Playground equipment is designed and manufactured to minimize risk, but it is always an extra precaution to remove these hazards altogether.
- Check for slippery or wet surfaces, especially ladders and slides.
- Bring along water to stay hydrated. Even if it’s not as hot, humid or sunny, drier air does, in fact, cause children to lose more water through their breath.
- Be aware! Kids will get so involved in their playtime that they might not notice that they have a wet jacket or their fingers are cold.
According to the inaugural Voice of Play Parent Survey, conducted by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA), the playground industry's leading playground safety certification organization, and its Voice of Play initiative, 80 percent of parents agree that their children enjoy playing outdoors significantly more than they enjoy playing indoors. However, the survey also showed that parents, unfortunately, prioritize play less during the winter months. In fact, while 89 percent agree that outdoor play is important in the summer, only 45 percent say the same for play during winter months. An important pledge that every parent can make is to prioritize play and commit to a goal of an hour of outdoor play each and every day.
If weather conditions don’t allow for outdoor play, free play should still be part of a daily routine. Free play has an important role to a child’s emotional growth, and research has pointed to three areas where play helps children develop emotionally: building self-confidence and esteem, experimenting with various emotions, and releasing emotions from trauma.
Don’t let the changing of the seasons prevent you from exploring the great outdoors. Remember these few tips and enjoy safe playtime with your kids in any type of weather.