For some of us – depending on when and where we grew up – it can be absolutely befuddling to consider that there are kids out there these days who’ve barely ever stepped foot in an outdoor park.
There’s a ton of reasons for this, of course. For some kids, it’s because they’re disadvantaged – there’s no properly equipped outdoor parks within their neighborhood, and their parents can’t afford to take them to one regularly (this one is becoming more and more of a sad reality, especially in urban areas). For other, it’s because smartphones, video games, and other physically undemanding thrills hold a lot more appeal. For many, it’s a mixture of both.
Either way, for all the parents out there, we’d just like to briefly go over the many ways in which time in an outdoor park can assist in a child’s development. Just to emphasise to you that, if you can afford the time and money and effort it takes to ensure that your kid regularly visits the park, it’s more than worth it to do so.
First, and perhaps most obviously, there’s the physical development. Obesity is becoming an epidemic issue worldwide, and a large portion of those affected are children. In engaging with the fun and enjoyable physical activities that an outdoor park offers them, children are not only staving off the weight, but are also developing an appreciation for exercise, and a habit of doing it regularly.
And then, of course, there’s the social element. Any reputable playground is going to be pretty packed with kids at the appropriate times; and there’s no better place for a kid to learn the nuances of social interaction and communication. Those are the sort of things that can’t be taught artificially; and a playground offers the perfect environment for kids to learn how to set boundaries, adhere to social rules, and work in teams.
Relatedly, playgrounds can also do a lot for your child’s development of flexible and spontaneous thinking. Usually, the sort of games that go on on the playground don’t have the sort of set rules that other games might; and as a result, participating in them can really assist your child in developing the ability to adjust to unexpected or spontaneous situations.
And of course, there’s also the tremendous value that playgrounds offer to the parents. And we’re not just talking about how they allow you to get off your feet for a bit while watching the kids, and to meet other parents. No, what’s really great about playgrounds is that they give you and your child the opportunity to develop your relationship. You get the chance to show your child that you trust them to be on their own (though still supervised) for a little while, whilst your child get the chance to prove to you that they can interact with othaer kids responsibly without you hovering over their shoulder.
Bringing your kids to the playground may be less convenient than sitting them in front of the TV for a few hours; but it’s also far, far better for their long-term growth into adults.