Tag Archives: parents

Adventure Playgrounds

   
  

 What is an adventure playground anyway?  Well, it looks a little like a junkyard, with lots of loose parts. I recently attended a screening of “The Land” by Erin Davis.  This event was put together by a local group, MUD, encouraging discussions in our community. It explores the concept of an adventure playground in Wales.Click here for Erin Davis interview.

The idea is that children are free to take risks with a variety of materials and experiences, with limited guidance.  Play workers are there to remove hazards, but offer no interference or intervention unless there is a request or hazard. (A hazard refers to something that the children are unaware of like broken glass or nails).

After the film, there was a bit of discussion about this concept and how to make it work here. One of the questions that came up was how to circumvent legal issues that could arise.  The panel answered this by saying that the adventure playgrounds in use are offered primarily to children age 6-11.  There are fewer rules and restrictions in this age group.  A fence with a lock is also traditionally included so that play workers are there to prevent hazards from harming the children, and to encourage risk taking in a physically and emotionally safe space.

A large portion of the audience were families, and while there were a lot of great conversations among parents, the early educator perspective was not present. That’s why I’m writing this…I have something to say as always.

We want to encourage risk-taking too. Unfortunately, we have state regulations and insurance liability to worry about.  I’m speaking mostly as a home provider, because if our insurance company doesn’t like our space or practices, they will drop us as clients-not just the childcare policies, but home and auto as well.  So that means no fires, no water deeper than 24″, and no heights greater than 36″.  That’s just to please my insurance company, the state regulations aren’t as tough, but no standing water, all sand covered when not in use…so basically our play space has to be picked up every afternoon.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t adopt some basic concepts of the adventure playground: risks are encouraged with minimal redirection and interference, loose parts are offered, and children are able to experience and witness disappointment, failures, achievements, and successes. 

What do they gain from this type of play?

Freedom in their play

Ownership and pride

A deeper sense of self

Rich social environment

To be challenged everyday

Become better problem solvers

Children develop resilience factors

So think about your experiences with playgrounds in the future, and maybe adjust your thinking a little.  Children are capable of so much, let’s see how far they can go! And as always, I welcome your comments!

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For more MUD events, click here

Click here to see a recent article about adventure playgrounds

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Start the Conversation Early

 

 When thinking about your two, three or four year old, I bet the last thing on your mind is talking to them about drug and alcohol use.  I’ve just blown you away, right?   Here’s the thing: if you talk to them in response to their questions or comments about it, it means more to them than a lecture 12 years later.  

I’m not saying to sit your two year old down for a substance talk-that wouldn’t be age appropriate and certainly not effective.  However, when you hear a toddler, a very verbal two year old, say, “I have cigarettes from the store,” you are presented with an opportunity.  This happened with my program kiddos the other day while engaging in dramatic play.  I didn’t want to give it too much attention and/or judgement so I was thoughtful in my provocation. I simply asked her to tell me about them.  She talked about the smoke, and came around to coughing.  I asked if cigarettes were okay for her to have: “I’m not a grown up yet, I’m still growing so I can’t have them.” 

Seems like the conversation has begun at her house.  As a mom of a ten year old son and the granddaughter, niece and daughter of family members with substance problems, I think it’s important to talk with kids early about things like drinking and driving.  For me, teaching my son about responsible consumption is as important as teaching him how to tie his shoe or zip his coat.  If these values are ingrained early, he will be better equipped to make decisions as an adolescent and adult.

Yesterday evening, while out for a bike ride with his wife, a man I’ve known for many years was killed after being struck by a drunk driver.  He left behind two children and his wife.  He was a valued colleague to many and he was committed to making the community a better place.

I wonder if that drivers family ever talked to him about drinking and driving?  Maybe they did, and he still wasn’t responsible with his choice.  But maybe they never got around to it…

Please feel free to provide feedback…

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