This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. All opinions expressed in my post are my own.
My own childhood was shaped by playing outside, creating mud pies and stick salads, twirling around as my swing’s chain unwound. I enjoyed loads of free play time, since we didn’t have a television. The games and simple outdoor play activities I remember live at the core of who I am as a parent. And it’s why I advocate and write about tech-free play ideas for kids! You’d be amazing at the amazing things happening at the playground for your kiddos – just come and see!
Let their childhood be shaped by play
When’s the last time you took your kids to a playground? Honestly… in New England months go by without a playground visit. So today, despite the chilly weather (and an impending snowmageddon!), I told the boys, “You know what, we’re stopping at a playground today – just for a few minutes.”
The afternoon was blessed with a lull in the wind, and a gilding of late winter sunshine, making the weather bearable for awhile. I watched my boys scamper up and down steps, slides, bridges, arches… screeching with excitement at this rare winter treat!
And I thought about what happens when children are given free rein in their playtime. Without devices, screens, and gizmos to prompt and direct every idea, kids become leaders of their own domains.
They invent worlds to explore, challenges to attempt, heights to reach. Whether it’s our backyard or a neighborhood playground, my boys adore wide-open spaces!
Playgrounds give them a new perspective for their fertile imaginations! The climbing walls and slides become uncharted territory, where my boys are dinosaurs chased by a T Rex, or knights protecting castle walls. They ride the high seas as pirates, and swing across rope bridges to reach land and find buried treasure.
One thing I’m always doing as a mom is discerning which activities are truly beneficial for my kids for the long haul. Over and over in my research and reading I hear about how character development is one of the most crucial things we can instill in our children. Because what good does all the knowledge do them, if they aren’t people who can build a future?
So to me, playtime is never wasted time. All that running around on the playground? Incredibly valuable for my children – and yours.
In our brief fifteen chilly minutes today, here’s what I saw that just warmed my mama heart:
- My seven year old, supporting his four-year-old brother climbing up a tricky arch segment.
- My four-year-old sticking with the climb till he made it to the top. Persistence pays off with a small win that will grow confidence in his little heart.
- The boys working as a team to ride the see-saw.
- And their problem-solving skills as they figured out which seat each of them should sit in to make the see-saw go faster, since they don’t weigh the same.
- Healthy competition as they tried to see who could swing the highest (little do they know, it’s rather limited by this mama’s poor pushing ability! Ha!).
- And don’t forget all that leadership and creativity as they use the playground scene (ours is designed as a castle), to invent stories and act them out with huge amounts of so-important gross motor play!
Playgrounds promise to shape our kids’ futures.
Here’s a fun fact: The University of Minnesota partnered with Landscape Structures (global playground manufacturers) to study the role of play in developing the whole child. They learned that play creates leaders, fosters collaboration, and teaches values like problem solving and persistence. Our kids will need those character traits someday!
While it may be “just play” now, playgrounds benefit all of us, no matter our ages or abilities. Even though it was winter, just as we left, we saw another child and parent stop by for a bit of play… and I wished we could have stayed longer, because I was reminded of how playgrounds initiate friendships and social interactions with people of all backgrounds and ages. Children are naturally filled with positivity, hope, bravery. They don’t think twice before reaching a hand out to the person climbing up after them. I’ve loved those summer days when my boys spend hours playing with someone they’ve never seen – learning how to be a friend is such an important lesson.
Even I felt refreshed chasing the boys around trying to grab a few pictures. I usually hole up in the wintertime, but being out in the brisk air livened up my soul, too!
“For a better tomorrow, we play today.”
Check out this inspiring video from global playground manufacturer Landscape Structures. I promise, it’ll make you smile and give you hope for our children:
My favorite part of the video is where the kids are huddled together – this message of including others in play is an important value I’m trying to teach my boys.
Playgrounds offer a promise that our children can grow their creativity, leadership, and perseverance. Play is an investment in their future selves. So I love the motto of Landscape Playgrounds, “For a better tomorrow, we play today.” So, so true!
So let your little ones (and big ones, too!) play today. Next time you see a playground, don’t drive by. Stop. Give your kids 15-20 minutes out in the open, racing the sun around a slide. It’ll be worth it, I promise. Find a playground near you, and make a visit soon!