Planning Time For The Park

When Thinker (now 9.5 y.o) and Little Rascal (now 7) were toddlers/preschoolers we spent a lot of time at parks and playgrounds. As we have had more children and the number of activities we fit into the day increases, I noticed earlier this year that Possum and Babaganouski really don’t get to the park as much.

I think part of this is due the fact that we moved out of the inner city and into suburbia with a decent size back yard, so the kids have a lot more space at home anyway. But there are benefits of going to the park that I can’t necessarily duplicate in the back yard all the time.

We have a trampoline, bikes, scooters, balls etc but no real climbing trees or balancing equipment. These are important gross motor skills that the toddler and preschooler need to be practising. Neither do we have a swing, which promotes:

“movement and perceptual skills, spatial awareness, general fitness, social interaction, mental representation, and sensory integration, including vestibular development (balance).”

I have put a request into Mr Infrastructure that he build some climbing equipment and include a swing, but I am not sure when or if this will happen! In the mean time though, I have tried to work in visits to the park as part of our weekly routines, so the children have the opportunity to practise these essential gross motor skills.

This term a good friend enrolled her daughter in the same dance class as Possum, so each week I pack a lunch box for the children and myself and we head to the park with our friends after dance. Even on the chillier days, the coolness has seemed to worry me more that the children and they look forward to this time each week.

The second session is a little closer to home and requires the kids to use a little more imagination. We have a small area of park land next door to us and it has great trees for climbing and a sloping face that is perfect for rolling down. I have been making sure that once a week I take the smaller two over to the park (the older two are allowed to go by themselves as long as they tell me) and let them investigate and explore.

Any exposure to parks and playgrounds on the week end depends a lot on what sporting activities and birthday parties are on. Given that we are in football season and we have three different types of football activities across the weekend (Auskick, dad’s footy and under 10’s) we generally come across another park once in our travels.

In addition to the benefits of practising their gross motor skills, by going to these public places the children also have a chance practise their social skills: waiting turns, meeting new children, negotiation etc.

How do you fit in visits to the park or do you have an playground equipment at home to use?