Children Need Playgrounds!

Playgrounds promote imaginative and active play

One of the greatest benefits I see for our kids in our move to California is that we spend a LOT of time on playgrounds. The Bay Area’s famous weather makes it easy for kids to play outside every single day without needing to bundle up. We are also spending a lot of time at playgrounds because we no longer have a yard, so we have to leave the house if I want my kids to spend time running around outdoors. We stay after school nearly every day to play on the playground there, and drive to playgrounds most weekends. Children need playgrounds – especially in modern society, where we want to let children play but we also make rules, rules, and more rules for our kids. Here are a few reasons I think playgrounds are something towns and schools should invest in:

Playgrounds embrace childhood

Playgrounds are the one man-made community space that truly belongs to children, and they are the one space that I see parents take their children with no expectations. You take your kids to school to learn academics; you take them to gymnastics or soccer to learn a sport. It is only on playgrounds that I see parents consistently giving their children free reign to play without evaluating their behavior. Playgrounds are also, not surprisingly, the one space where I regularly find adults reminiscing positively about their childhoods.

Playgrounds allow children to practice risk taking

Modern society does not like risks, and even playgrounds have rules – but rules on playgrounds are fewer than most places. Playgrounds are a space where we are comfortable letting our kids practice risk taking, from swinging ever higher on the swings to climbing up rock walls.

Playgrounds promote active play

My kids love to sit quietly and draw and read, but a playground gets even my children running and climbing! I love having a space that is designed for kids, where they can run, climb, slide, swing, and play as loudly as they like. The playful, non-judgmental atmosphere of playgrounds also makes it an ideal space for kids to practice new skills, from climbing up a rock wall to swinging across monkey bars.

children need play grounds - moms too

Playgrounds help kids develop independence

By promoting play and physical activity, playgrounds help kids develop independence! At home, two-year-old Anna likes to ask me to carry her up and down stairs; something that is legitimately difficult for her due to some physical delays. But when I take her to the playground, she forgets the difficulty in her excitement over climbing stairs to speed down a slide!

Playgrounds promote imaginative play

I love listening in on the scenarios kids create on playgrounds – from pirate ships to castles and space shuttles! Children are experts at transforming slides into escape hatches and climbing walls into Mount Everest.

Playgrounds promote cooperative play

Playgrounds often encourage kids to cooperate, from waiting patiently for a turn on the slide to agreeing on what they are going to play and the different roles they will each be assigned. Playgrounds are also a nice neutral space for kids to make friends without worrying about household rules or sharing toys.

Playgrounds bring communities together

As a mom, I also appreciate the neutral space of a playground as a meeting place! On a playground, nobody cares what you ate for breakfast or what your house looks like, and there is plenty of time to chat while kids run and play!

What benefits do you see in playgrounds for your kids, yourself, and your community?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

18 thoughts on “Children Need Playgrounds!”

    1. We often meet our only child friends at playgrounds :)

      Nature is the ultimate playground, really! But living in more settled areas as we do sometimes playgrounds are little more accessible.

  1. I couldn’t agree more! We go to the park all the time and sometimes my kids will even put down their books in order to run and climb! Love it for play dates too.

  2. Playgrounds are awesome! My kids constantly need to run off energy. Though amusingly enough they almost get more imaginative play out of an empty field because the structures aren’t set up to be a certain type of thing, so my kids feel more free to decide the pile of rocks is the castle, and that tree is a magical fort.

  3. Great post! Playgrounds are one of the things I miss living here in S. Africa. They are few and far between, and when you do find them, they are usually in a pretty bad state.

  4. Elisa | blissful E

    Playgrounds are so important, and one of the things we love about where we live! Our homeschooling group has a park/playground day once a month, and it’s a wonderful place for the mums to talk while kids of all ages get to know each other.

  5. We’re so fortunate to live right in front of a park, so my toddlers are there nearly every day. My four-year-old doesn’t get to go every day but his school has an outdoor playground they play in three times a day.

    I love our playground and park because, like you, we have no yard, so our park is our “yard.” My kids need to be outdoors—I want them to prioritize being outdoors over many things, so I make it a point to get out as much as possible. Our park is pretty cool too where it looks more “nature-y” than other more structured parks, with trails and pine trees and such.

    All your reasons are the same as mine as to why I love taking my kids out to the park!

  6. I’m a fan of playgrounds! We taught J at an early age how to fall from/dismount the monkey bars. Now, he won’t come down from them! It’s also fun to see how kids can creatively get around the safety checks of the newer playgrounds. We should have a park play date in the future!

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