Summer is a time when children have greater opportunities to explore their environment. The weather motivates them to enjoy the sun, and they are not obligated to spend time in the classroom and on homework assignments. Still though, children who are provided complete autonomy over their activities often encounter safety risks.
When your children venture out to the playground, you can help keep them safe and entertained. Grazed knees and bumps on the head are normal for young children who are keen to explore the environment around them, but more serious accidents can occur if we don’t teach our kids how to play safely with and around others.
Read the signs
Oftentimes, many playgrounds will have signage posted around the equipment, indicating which parts are designed for smaller children and which parts aren’t. While children naturally explore their surrounds to satisfy their curiosity, it is best for your child, if they are small, and other children, if your child is older, that you ensure they stay in the designated area. Something as simple as flailing limbs on the monkey bars can injure a small child quite quickly.
Swings and slides the right way
Going down the slide and laughing on a swing are both quintessential parts of childhood, but it is a good idea to ensure our children are taught how to use the equipment properly. Children don’t have the ability to consider the consequences of their behaviour the way that we do and lack the foresight to know that going down the slide headfirst will hurt. If we take steps to show our children the right way to use the equipment, they can encourage other children to do the same.
Hide and seek
In a busy park, children can and do disappear quite quickly. Use your judgement for this one, some parents don’t feel comfortable closing their eyes or turning away from their child, so it might be worth your while to have an older tween, teen or adult friend nearby who is watching the game. Furthermore, get yourself in the habit of exercising the ‘if in doubt, don’t’ rule of thumb. If the situation is unsafe, you don’t know the area well enough, the park is too busy or you don’t feel they have adequate supervision, you might be better off playing hide and seek at home.
There are playgrounds out there that have sandpits where kids can spend their afternoon playing and digging in the sand, but these often don’t get covered up at night so it’s a good idea to encourage your child to keep their shoes on in the sandpit, you can also take the time to investigate and dig through the sand yourself. Sandpits can often have glass, spiders or – yikes – sometimes needles in them, so you might save yourself a lot of grief if you take a quick look for yourself.
Preschoolers often learn through song. When you take them to the playground, you can sing songs about the equipment there. Young children often love to sing, and they have a good time when doing so. These songs can also teach them about safety in the playground. When you incorporate these ideas into the songs, your kids will learn about safety without even realizing that they are doing so.
Recent research has found that children are more likely to follow rules if you work on them together. If you sit down with your children and write down a list of rules for playing in the playground as a collaborative effort, you may find that they follow the rules more often. Researchers have attributed this to the sense of responsibility that children feel when asked for their advice.
If the playground has an open field, you may want to bring sports equipment that is safe for preschoolers, such as a tee ball. When it comes to outdoor games for preschooler and toddlers, it is a good idea to scope out the area for any dangers or yuckies that might be lurking, like bees or the dreaded dog poo. Teaching them how to safely play sports is a valuable skill that can help them in PE class and on teams when they are older.
These activities help young children to learn safety habits from an early age.
What rules did you discuss with your children before you took them to the playground? Share below!
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