Playing At The Park
A visit to the park always promises valuable learning experiences. As parents, we love to see our children enjoying themselves on a play structure, but do we often pause and think about the skills being developed as they play?
Climbing not only develops gross motor skills, but it also incorporates motor planning development as children think through and plan out how they are going to safely get from one area to another. You may have to help guide your child as to where to place his hands and feet, but once he has an idea of how it works then he will want to do it all on his own. Take note as his confidence increases and he becomes more of a risk taker! Allow your little explorer the opportunity to keep trying new ways to get to the top and different ways to place his body. This is such a neat way for parents to watch their children’s minds process and plan.
A visit to the park goes beyond just the jungle gym. Take the opportunity to walk around and explore the nature around the park. My daughter and I love to go on “critter quests” to spot all sorts of insects and creepy crawly animals. We often use my smart phone to take pictures and then later go back and look at them andrecall what we saw.
While walking, take the opportunity to talk to your little one about the color of the sky and the leaves, the warmth of the weather and the sounds you hear. So many senses can be accessed in the park! Bring paper and crayons with you, sit on a blanket and sketch what you see. Your little one won’t have the skills just yet to draw a sophisticated scene, but introducing him to the idea of sketching what you see and documenting observations is a skill that will be valuable in the future. If you each have paper to sketch on, he can see you at work along side him. This is a lovely experience for you to share with your little one!
While at the park meeting a new friend is inevitable. Allow him to talk with and play with these new peers for its amazing how quickly kids can feel comfortable with each other! It also gives you a meaningful chance to reinforce taking turns, sharing and using words to express needs with others.
The park is a place to enjoy the sun, release energy and have fun improving gross motor, cognitive and social skills so get out there and have fun!