• Lara Chaplin

Benefits of Park Play

Lalas's House Childminding

We love playing the park! and believe it or not it covers all 7 areas of learning without them, or you, even realising!

We try to visit a park at least once, sometimes twice a week, and this is why!

Giving children the freedom to play allows them to explore their surroundings and find their own ways of learning. Even Maths and Literacy can be covered at the park.

Personal, Social & Emotional Development (PSED) - Park play is great for this, even when they go on their own they will always meet another child. Building their confidence to approach and interact with other children and adults (obviously with supervision). Freely playing in the park sparks their imagination and encourages group and solo play.

Physical Development - This is the obvious one. Climbing, walking, running. But also there is learning to balance on the balance beams, how quickly can the run down the slopey climbing frame, working out how to approach that rope bridge without falling down, just how high is that step and will i need help or can i do this on my own?! Physical Development isn't just them being able to do something, it is teaching them how to work out on their own HOW they can achieve something!

Communication & Language - Talk talk talk! Talk about what you see, talk about what they are doing. See a bird flying in the sky, make it a Dragon and help them repeat the new word (for the really small ones). When they ask you for help "Up Lala" respond with a fuller sentence "Would you like help to get up?" with emphasis on the bit you'd really like them to try and repeat. Then there is the communication between 2 or a bigger group of children. Being left to organise themselves encourages them to take turns in speaking, by listening to an other, sometimes older child, helps them pick up words from each other.

"...ask you for help "Up Lala" respond with a fuller sentence "Would you like help to get up?" with emphasis on the bit you'd really like them to try and repeat."

Literacy - This isn't all reading and writing. Especially in the reallllyyy early years. This is creating stories and mark making... how do I do this at the park? I hear you ask. Have you seen a climbing frame at a park? could they be Rapunzel at the top of her tower? or a bridge where the troll is patrolling underneath. We once went to a park with small rocks in, one of our little ladies decided she was the little mermaid, as the story progressed we were all different characters, King Triton, Sebastian the Crab and she was trying to get away from the imaginary evil witch who was trying to take her voice.... not a book in sight! Then there is Mark making, has your child ever found a stick or stone on their travels? if they are anything like mine gravel is a favourite. Help them draw lines, squiggles, or shapes with their tool and if they haven't found a tool they can use a finger or their whole hand to draw a line down the handle bars of the steps leading up to the slide. Reading is very important, but their comprehension or stories begins with their ability to tell a story without a book.

Maths - Counting steps, spotting the shape of the wheels on the big tractor you can pretend to drive. We popped to a lovely park today in Towersey and one of the smalls was picking up the bark. We counted the pieces of bark and drew around the rectangle shape of the steps. The really little ones were exploring the spaces they could walk through and which ones they had to crawl through - spatial awareness - those sticks you were using to make marks with?! find more, build a nest for a character in your story.

"...most of their play teaches them, just follow their lead, praise..."

Understanding the World - Parks are great for this. Exploring all the sense, What can we see? What can we hear? What can we smell? What does that piece of equipment feel like? Probably not a great idea for them to explore their taste buds... but kids will be kids! Understand the world is appreciating that some people like to do things you're not so keen on, or the other way around. Some of the best birthday parties I ever had as a child were up the park, expand on that and explore Diwali using all the colourful equipment or Easter by hopping around like bunnies.

Last but, by no means least...

Expressive Art and Design - This is my favourite! play in the sandpit and dig for treasure, scratch up the bark or the mud looking for gold, crawl along the wet grass pretending to be a snake. Walk along the "plank" (balance beam) and jump into the sea at the end. Ticking this box, ticks them all.

"Walk along the "plank" (balance beam) and jump into the sea at the end."

Working in my industry box ticking is a daily part of what I, and all other Early Years and Teaching staff, do. We don't need to go through life box ticking for our children, most of their play teaches them, just follow their lead, praise and guide where necessary.

A simple trip to the park is all you need. Enjoy your children, they won't stay this way forever xxx

Much Love


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