Play parks allow children to explore and develop balance and strength in a safe environment. While some of us are lucky enough to live in rural areas where we can allow our children to build dens, climb trees, and play in streams, many are not so fortunate to have the space or the confidence to encourage this type of play in their children. In urban areas a play park may be one of the few safe places for children to play. It certainly beats building sites or derelict buildings!
Play parks provide a space to burn off energy and run around without causing stress. A play park is usually in a fenced in area, so even young or more impulsive children can be given freedom to run and play without too much adult interference. In the fresh air children can be allowed to just run and climb and jump without you constantly worrying that they’ll be upsetting the neighbours or breaking things in the house. Physical exercise as children is crucial for their development, and for their lifelong health. Enjoying exercise and movement at a young age is a great start for them.
Play parks provide opportunities for children to meet new people, and to learn harmonious social interaction. Whether or not your children are used to spending time with other children, whether they attend toddler groups, pre-school or school, have siblings or not – they will all learn something from playing at a play park. There is play equipment for a start, and there’s a certain etiquette that needs to be learned, from waiting your turn on the swings or the slide, to making sure not to step on somebody’s fingers on the climbing frame, giving someone else a turn on something or just working around somebody else’s game. There are children of a wide range of ages and abilities. Children need to learn to be careful of smaller children, to stand up for themselves with bigger children if need be, and to just generally be kind to others. You’ll find that on busier play parks, just like in a big city, children tend to ignore one another; children might be quite happy to play alone on a quiet play park; but on a play park where there are a few children, they will quite often just start playing together. It’s usually instigated by the more confident child, “Hello, I’m Isla, what’s your name?”. They’ll happily play together until it’s time to go.