Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Playgrounds Can be Fun Free Way to Connect With Kids

Playgrounds Offer Free Outside Activities for the Kids © Katrena
Playgrounds abound in many areas...and they are often empty. Wow. My family has found that public playgrounds provide a wealth of opportunities to have fun, work on coordination, get exercise and a little sunshine and more. They are often those uncovered, free gyms of free entertainment that can provide a great way to connect with the kids.

How to Find Local Playgrounds

Many elementary schools have public playgrounds, so sometimes finding a playground is as easy as looking up the address of the area elementary schools. These playgrounds tend to be kept up well with safety in mind. You won't be able to use the facilities during school hours, but other times are often available for the public to enjoy.

Find Fun and Free Playgrounds © Katrena
Word of mouth is another popular way to find playgrounds, and many parents and caregivers may schedule regular play dates for the kids in the area. This can be a great way to interact with others and can provide a welcome relief from the humdrum home routine. My kids and I often head over to a playground on the way home from school. It provides a great way to release a little of that extra energy before starting on homework.

If your county has a parks and recreation department, they can often point you to several playgrounds in the area and might be able to provide you with inside information regarding what is available at each one. They may also give you added information about recreational opportunities in the county.

A Chamber of Commerce is another place that might offer insight into where to find playgrounds, and if you have a local Smart Start program, they might offer suggestions for playgrounds and may give added information with preschooler needs in mind.

Free Summer Activities for the Family © Katrena
Playground Etiquette

Public playgrounds are just that. Available to the public. Most of them cannot be reserved. People may have parties in public playgrounds, but expect others to enjoy the facilities there as well. Sometimes large groups may use these facilities, and sometimes they travel to these areas at a set time each week or day, so if you wish to avoid bumping elbows with a large group, feel free to check with the adults to see if they have a schedule.

Many playgrounds have rules posted, and some laws may apply to certain individuals with restrictions. It helps to explain to the kids that they should expect to share equipment and the adults should expect to share benches, etc. If a large group of kids, such as those in an afterschool program or preschool, is using the playground, sometimes it works better to choose another nearby playground, but many of the people supervising large groups are very gracious and ensure that the other kids have an opportunity to play on equipment as well.

As the children play, it helps if an adult that brought the children supervises carefully, not only for safety reasons but for behavior issues that might appear as well. Taking care of the equipment and facilities is a must. Weight limits should be observed to avoid breaking pieces, and using trash receptacles is important for the aesthetics as well as keeping the area safer for the kids. Many children tend to pick up everything they see on the ground, so it can be helpful to mention safety issues before entering the area.

Enjoy Free Family Entertainment - Critterville Playground in Richlands VA ©Katrena

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