One of our very favorite things to do on a beautiful summer night after dinner is to take a short trip to the nearest playground. If we have extra time, we can journey to a park nearby that includes a lake, sand volleyball court, and hiking trails. So, aside from the obvious “no screen time” that occurs at the park, how else can a playground or park setting be beneficial for your young child?
- The sand volleyball court: I have yet to see an actual sand volleyball game going on in a sand volleyball court at a Pittsburgh playground. What do I see, instead? Young children, bare feet, buckets and shovels! Pack yours! What are the benefits of sand play? Sensory play exposes them to the texture of sand, both wet and dry. Pre-math skills to dump and fill buckets and containers as we determine “full” or “empty”. Scooping with shovels and spoons, which strengthens fine motor skills and aids in utensil use and fine motor skills.
- Social interactions! Taking turns on the swings and slides. Making requests to parents and peers as they select the swings, slides, climbers and bridges. Playing alongside a peers.
- Interacting with nature: picking flowers, collecting acorns and pine cones. Experiencing the sights, scents and sounds of outdoor play.
- Hearing the new vocabulary as caregivers identify the lake, ducks, trees, colors, creeks, minnows, branches, and more.
- Physical development! Climbing, grabbing, pulling, pumping, pushing, bending, balancing…playgrounds offer gross and fine motor development that strengthen muscles in the core, limbs and fingers and toes!
- Have a picnic! Try new foods in a new environment! Finger foods, and healthy snacks are fun to pack! It’s easier than you think.
So, why pass up this opportunity? As children grow, you can bring a ride on toy or tricycle to ride on the paths. There are un-ending benefits to playing at a playground. What are your favorite reasons to go to a park? Share with us!