Want to make your child’s play at the playground more meaningful but don’t know how? Fret not! Here are 4 ideas that you could use to enhance the quality of learning at the playground.
Parents are very much encouraged to be involved in their children’s activities, especially during play. By playing with them, you get to strengthen your relationship with them, participate in activities that they like, and encourage impromptu learning opportunities.
Even time at the playground can offer many opportunities for you to bond with your child. Playing at the playground and chasing playmates may sound meaningless. On the contrary, there is actually a lot of learning taking place.
In order to move around structures successfully, children need to develop their motor skills and spatial awareness to have strong muscles and learn to be mindful of their bodies in that space. They also practice social skills such as communication and turn-taking when playing with their friends. Parental involvement can further enhance the quality of your child’s learning at the playground.
Mrs. Wong*, a parent of three children, said that she usually uses her phone to check her emails while her children are playing at the playground. Mr. Tan*, a member of the pioneer generation, also noticed that parents are very focused on their phones at the playground and do not engage with their children.
You may think that there is a certain limit to what you can do with your children at the playground but here are four ideas that you can take with you when you head to the playground with your kids!
1. Documenting Your Children at Play
Observe your children’s play and take pictures and videos of your children as they are playing. These pictures and videos give you an opportunity to look back at those memories fondly.
Share these pictures and videos with your children and show them what they did at the playground. You can also use it to talk with them about their play experiences.
2. Reflecting with Children about their Play Experiences
Mrs. Wong* also shared that play can be about engaging children in conversations. As a parent, she listens to her children when they are talking about their play experiences. Mrs. Devi*, an early childhood educator, highlighted that parents should give sufficient time for children to share their thoughts on these experiences. Children are very eager to share their adventures with you. Listen to them and ask questions when they are sharing their play experiences. Look out for the language they use too – you may be surprised by the vocabulary they use.
Take this opportunity to reinforce their good play behaviour and highlight playground etiquette – what are acceptable behaviours at the playground? You could also talk to children about taking healthy risks and the cause and effect of their actions.
3. Allow Child Directed Play
Children are full of imagination and have creative ideas of how they would like to play. Take the backseat and allow children to choose what they want to do, for example, climb the yellow stairs or swing across the monkey bars pretending to be monkeys. Children also like to pretend to be adults.
Join in if they invite you to and follow their lead. Children get to build on their confidence and social skills as they engage in child-directed play.
4. Be a Role Model
Parents need to relieve stress too. Why not use this opportunity to have fun and bond with your children? Join your children as they play, and use the time to interact with other parents as well. You are your children’s first teachers and they pick up social behaviours when they see that you are having fun and making new friends.
Are you ready to play yet? Get off those playground benches and start playing together with your children to guide their learning experiences!
*Names have been changed to protect the individuals’ identities
This article is a contribution from:
Brenda Toh Pei Rong, Charis Chua Xiang Ling, and Nur Dakhirah Binte Jamaludin are final year undergraduate students in Wheelock College’s Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.