I regularly joke that I bring my kids to the park so much to save my sanity. I mean, sure my stress levels are markedly lower when my kids have burned off their excess energy but it isn’t the only reason to let your kids play outside. We even spent one day
We even spent one day hopping from playground to playground. It’s one of our favorite staycation activities and it’s free!
Besides, mom’s sanity, there are some great reasons I bring my kids to the park regularly.
How playground time benefits kids
Sharpens critical thinking and social skills
Cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, the ground is lava, sharks and minnows, tag–these are all games I played at the park as a child. Each time I see my kids playing them, I smile. These games don’t just force them to exercise their bodies. They foster critical thinking skills and creative problem-solving. Children learn leadership skills, perseverance, and social skills and norms while playing. I love to sit back and watch playground politics at work!
Landscape Structures, a playground design company, has partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Childhood Development to research how play helps develop the whole child by creating leaders, encouraging collaboration, and teaching about the values of persistence and problem-solving.
Among my favorites are the playgrounds that encourage imaginative play, like the parks located in our local zoo. The Jacksonville Zoological Gardens have several children’s play areas. The splash park, designed by Landscape Structures, has whales that spout water from their blow holes and other sea creatures. The kids can “swim” in this ocean while frolicking with other zoo goers taking a break from the Florida heat.
Fosters Imaginative Play
The dry playground at our zoo is no ordinary playground either. The playground equipment is woven into a forest scene. There is a large “spider web,” a tree with a kid only hideaway, and a giant bird nest complete with egg! The play park design inspires play and learning for kids of all ages and abilities.
Great way to burn off energy and get exercise
Last but not least, playgrounds are a great way to burn off excess energy after a long day at school. When we don’t have soccer practice, I try to let them run around and play at least once a week. The exercise helps them focus better at school and sleep better at night.
So when I say that I bring them to the park to save my sanity, I really mean that I bring them to the park to save my sanity while letting them develop critical thinking and motor skills! An hour at the park builds social skills, confidence, motor skills, and critical thinking skills and tightens the bond between the child, their siblings and their parents.