This post was sponsored by Landscape Structures as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
“Mom,” our 8-year-old commented as we piled into the car after a trip to the playground, “Every time we go to the playground, we find someone there to be friends with! We can make friends anywhere!” I smiled at these simple lessons he learned at the playground.
And it’s true: If there are any little kids around, my boys will invariably co-opt them into their make-believe games. It’s heart-warming to watch.
So even though we have a beloved old wooden swing set in our backyard, we still make regular visits to the playground, just to have the opportunity to make new friends and play with other kids. Since October is Sensory Awareness Month, Landscape Structures partnered with me to share what kids learn at inclusive playgrounds – and their importance and value!
October is Sensory Awareness Month
Beyond the obvious physical benefits of playgrounds, I think the best perks of inclusive playgrounds are the sensory and social benefits. I don’t know if you have any near you, but inclusive playgrounds like those designed by Landscape Structures are amazing because they are designed to include all ages, abilities, and developments.
Our favorite inclusive playground is a bit of a haul, but totally worth it. Jonathan’s Dream in West Hartford, CT, is an inclusive playground abounding with sensory play options. There are chalkboard drawing walls, weaving walls, a musical center with many giant percussion instruments. A basketball court for tossing balls around, swings, slides, and climbing gyms galore.
At Jonathan’s Dream, the basketball courts have lower and higher hoops so kids of all ages/heights can toss the ball around together. The swing sets include traditional belt seats, infant seats and modeled bucket seats with harnesses for older kids. Regardless of age, ability, or development, kids can swing, slide, and ride together and side-by side.
My boys favor all the motion-based play equipment, like the zip-line style airplane, the spinning seats and rotating wheels. Swinging bridges and anything that moves beckon my boys to play.
What Kids Learn at Inclusive Playgrounds
Beyond the exciting sensory activities, I love that inclusive playgrounds challenge my children to grow. Kids learn at inclusive playgrounds: how to play together and include differently-abled children in their play.
When we visited the playground this week, my nephews came with us. Because they are only two, my older boys practiced empathy: understanding that the twins couldn’t go as fast as they could, couldn’t attempt some of the same rides as they could. They learned to slow down, take their time, and watch out for their little cousins. They had to take time from their own play to support the little ones’ play too!
Kids learn life lessons at playgrounds! Like being persistent, and being emboldened to attempt new things. My six-year-old son was nervous to walk on the rotating wheel, yet watching his brother try it, he found himself mastering it by the end of the afternoon! Why? Because he learned from watching others play and succeed!
Playgrounds allow kids to take the lead in big and small ways. Whether that’s leading a group of friends through an obstacle course, or self-directing their own play, kids make decisions and determine outcomes through their play.
Inclusive playgrounds teach kids to include others. By the end of our afternoon of play, my boys were happily playing with another young boy on a jungle gym. Just as my oldest said, making friends wherever they go!
Visit and learn at inclusive playgrounds near you!
If you haven’t visited an inclusive playground yet, you should! Beyond what I’ve mentioned here, there’s more amazing things happening for kids at playgrounds! Inclusive playgrounds are located nation-wide! Find one near you by visiting Landscape Structure’s playground locator!