It’s never been easier for kids to spend an entire Saturday seated. Almost unthinkable a few generations ago, kids today have so many passive entertainment options to where they exercise nothing except their thumbs and eyeballs. Although there’s nothing wrong with TV time or playing video games with friends every so often, kids today are at risk of forgetting the simple joys of getting outside and playing unplugged, which is why the playground continues to be an important fixture in kids’ lives.
Getting outside to play does more than give kids physical exercise, although the importance of being active cannot be overstated for kids as physical fitness has become a greater concern nationally. Kids who get regular play opportunities on a playground or elsewhere helps their development by giving them opportunities for gross motor skill development, exploration and understanding how the natural world works. Without those opportunities to play outside, kids lose the opportunity to learn about themselves and how to interact with their peers, as well. In short, the playground is more than a place for physical activity — it’s a living laboratory for kids to learn more about the world and themselves.
Of course, no experimentation can take place without the element of risk, and playgrounds also present kids with opportunities for bumps and bruises to go along with their learning. Some of these minor injuries are accidental and unavoidable, but unless parents and kids take precautions while playing, there’s always the chance that more serious injuries can happen.
Fortunately, most modern playground equipment has been designed to be safer and less risky for kids to play on than in the past, so parents can breathe a little easier when they let their kids loose on a playground. However, no matter how safely a swing set or slide has been designed, parents and kids still need to be aware of what safe equipment looks like as well as the proper way to use it in order to be as safe as possible. For example, children should always use both hands when climbing to the top of a slide, and they should never walk too close to a swing set to avoid being hit. For their part, parents should remember always to inspect playground equipment before their kids begin playing — to ensure there are no loose pieces, exposed bolts or sharp edges.
Playgrounds are more than a place for kids to keep busy for a little while — they’re crucial opportunities for kids to develop more than their muscles. From parents’ perspectives, nothing is more important than giving their kids the opportunity for that development in a safe environment. Following the playground safety checklist below can help parents and kids make the most of their playgrounds, and do so as safely as possible.
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