What you can learn at your neighborhood playground or park – July 2010

If you open your eyes to the world around you, a lot can be learned at your neighborhood park or playground.

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with
locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “Visiting your local parks or playgrounds can provide your children with many wonderful opportunities such as playing games with other children, improving their motor skills on playground equipment, and learning to
explore the great outdoors all in a fun setting.”

Playing With Other Children

Think about when you were a child. What were some of your favorite games to play? Chances are, if you head to a park or playground today with your own children, you’ll still find kids jumping rope and playing hopscotch; tag; Red Light, Green Light; kickball; dodgeball; Duck, Duck, Goose;
Four Square; and Doggy, Doggy, Where’s Your Bone?

According to Anderson, “In this day and age of video games, these classic ‘tried and true’ games help children learn how to interact with each other. They also encourage teamwork, and from this, friendships are made.”

If you aren’t sure that you remember how to play all of these great games, Anderson suggests that you visit www.gameskidsplay.net for a refresher on the directions and rules for each of these fun games and

Playground Equipment

Anderson says that the playground equipment at parks can also offer many positive experiences for children. Swings provide a great opportunity to hold smaller children or push bigger children and teach them about distances. Have them focus on an object, and then discuss with them the terms near and far as they move back and forth from the object.

Slides can be a great way to help your children develop their motor skills while having fun. Just make sure that you stay right behind them when they climb up the steps, and that the slide is not hot before they go down. Smaller children should ride on your lap while bigger children, usually 3 and up, can typically slide on their own. Also, when your older child is sliding down, it is good to stand on the side of the slide as a guide.

Seesaws are another fantastic piece of playground equipment that can help your children with their balance as well as understanding the terms up and down. Just be sure that you seek out a seesaw that is specially proportioned, so your children can have their feet touch the ground.

Finally, tunnels made out of tubes that children can crawl through on playgrounds help them build their muscles and get a better sense of their bodies. Anderson recommendsthat for smaller children you start with shorter tubes where they can see from start to finish, so they don’t feel afraid of the unknown around the corner.

Exploring Nature

According to Anderson, parks offer children a direct experience with nature. They can lie in the grass and watch ants working on transporting a piece of food to an ant hill, collect interesting rocks, or take a leaf from a tree and investigate it.

“Anyone can enjoy the wide open space of a park or playground and the nature that it encompasses, and studies have found that children are much more apt to learn through exploration.”

Many area parks also have gardening opportunities where children can help tend to flower beds or plant their own vegetable gardens on a small plot of land within the park.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Playground Learning” on Wednesday, July 13th, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Ebenezer Child Care Centers’ Southside
Milwaukee Center located at 1496 South 29th Street.

Playgrounds offer children an opportunity to branch out of their comfort zones, test things out, and experiment with new habits, behaviors, and traits. They also give children a chance to develop the courage to do the best they can and to take a deep breath and find the courage to dive in and let go of mistakes.  Come to this Family Fun Night to find out about more learning that goes on at the playground!
Activities will include playing with dirt in the sensory table, putting together a kite, and creating bubble art! In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us! Registration is required. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally-based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. Theagency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers a variety of free Family Fun Nights and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, in Greenfield, Mequon, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at www.ebenezerchildcare.com.