Parents at The Playground
TPP: In Singapore, many of our playgrounds are plastic, commercial play systems. Then, there are the ever-so-popular indoor playgrounds at malls now too. (Some examples are this, and this…in case you aren’t familiar with these in Canada). Most, if not all, of these have passed the ‘’risk” assessments to minimize danger to the kids. However, I’ve read that learning to assess and manage risks through playing on playgrounds is beneficial for the kids. (I watched that video you posted on your blog too!).
How can we as parents find ways to allow and encourage our kids to learn to risk-manage through play?
AS: The first thing is that we have to know our kids’ capabilities – how well developed is their sense of balance, their depth perception, their physical strength? What can they do, what are they capable of on the playground?
Some kids are more cautious, others more adventurous. Some may need encouragement and a helping hand, some may need to slow down, to show some restraint.
On any given day, the same kids can find themselves at different places on the spectrum. The key to all this of course is the parent knowing the child.
When my youngest (now coming up for 3) first tries a new piece of equipment, I make sure I’m close by so I can reach out and grab, catch, cradle her if need be. Once I see she is able to move, manoeuvre, get around, I just pull back and let her go.
She was climbing very steep slide stairs that took her up to a height of over 2 metres when she was just over 2. At the beginning I would have her older brother go up behind her. She’s been going alone now for months.
When you let your kids push the their physical limits you have to be prepared for the occasional bump, fall, scrape.
It’s all part of the risk management continuum.
Thank you Alex for sharing your passion for play and playgrounds, and for showing us that there can be so much more to playgrounds!
If you would like to be further inspired by fantastical Play and Playgrounds, check out some of the resource sites Alex recommends.
If you would like to find out how you can be part of a working group to improve public play spaces for our children, please leave a comment here or email me.