Archive for May, 2012

Motivating Your Children to Play Outside

May 23rd, 2012 by

Motivating Your Children to Play OutsideChildren enjoy play, but sometimes they don’t necessarily want to participate in the kind of play that’s best for them: outdoors, physical activity, constructive and safe. With the advent of video games, smartphones and all the other technology that distracts both children and adults, it has become harder to get children interested in playing outside, but here are some ways to motivate them.

Remind your children of games they can play. Oftentimes, the problem for kids is that they don’t know what to do once they get outside. But there are an almost endless number of games available for the enterprising child: any sort of sport, tag, hide and seek, imaginary play, SPUD, and so on. If kids have a particular activity they can get excited about before leaving the house, they’ll be more eager to do so in the future.

Encourage your kids to try and make something up. One of the most empowering things for a child is to discover a game that didn’t exist before, a game of their own creation. If you let your kids experiment with the possibilities of play, they’ll understand better that they don’t need to be bound by the rules of any pre-created game when they’re trying to entertain themselves, and that there are an almost unlimited number of ways to have fun.

Place limits on certain indoor activities. There’s nothing wrong with video games or television or the computer, necessarily. But in excess, these activities don’t contribute to overall health and wellbeing. If you limit the amount of time your children can use these indoor things to either a certain amount of time every day or only certain parts of the week, it’ll force them to find other ways to entertain themselves, and these ways will most likely involve going outside.

Play with your kids and exercise on your own. Playing with your children outside helps set a positive precedent. If they see you enjoying yourself outside, they’ll be more likely to do the same themselves. And if mommy and daddy are in good shape, they’ll want to be in good shape like mommy and daddy. Setting good examples for your children is incredibly important, particularly when it comes to active pursuits like exercise and play.

Get a Play N’ Learn Playset! Create a park for your kids to play in the backyard with a playset. Your kids will love the games they can play on it, and you can add and change features as your child ages.

Getting your kids to exercise is a very important part of setting them up to lead healthy and productive lives, and it’s crucial to start early. If your children are used to exercising when they’re young, they will expect it to be a part of their lives as they get older, and by then they will be able to be a part of organized sports that help instill play as a regular, daily activity.

Keeping Your Playset Safe

May 16th, 2012 by

Keeping Your Playset SafeA bright sunny day is the perfect time to get the children out of the house and onto the playground. But before your little ones start climbing, sliding, swinging, and having fun, make sure the playset they’ll be using is safe.

According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, there were almost 47,000 injuries to children under the age of 15 last year who were playing on home playgrounds. While this isn’t a statistic that any parent wants to hear, it’s a great reminder that every playset and playground should be made as safe as possible.

This checklist will help you ensure that your playset, and the area around it, is safe for your children.

Check the Lumber – the posts located at the corner of each playset should be planted firmly in the ground and possess very little side-to-side motion.

A is for A-Frame – the A-frame of any playset should be securely seated in the ground and have some give. However, it should remain relatively still, even when the playset is being used.

Survey the Space – the area around the playset should be open and cleared of any trees, bushes, or other obstacles to help reduce collisions. The space in front of, and behind, each swing should be twice the height of the beam that supports it.

Happy Landings – grass and dirt don’t make for easy landings, so make sure the area around the playset is filled with rubber or wood mulch, wood chips, sand or very fine gravel. The depth of the material depends upon what you’re using, so check with the vendor.

Pick up the Slack – excess ropes and chains should be shortened to avoid the possibility of injury. Remember that these ropes and chains should be anchored into the ground.

Take a Close Look – examine the playset when the children aren’t around and it’s easier to focus. Check to make sure the bolts and other hardware are tight. Heavy traffic areas should be checked for wear or breakage.

Turn It Off! – Smart phones and tablets have their place in all of our lives, but remember to pay attention to children when children are using the playset. Being alert and paying attention helps keep accidents from occurring.

Age Appropriate – toddlers shouldn’t be using playsets that are built for bigger children, and vice versa. As your child grows, your playset should to! You can check out a variety of new playsets on our website.

Playsets are an excellent way for children to exercise and socialize. Use these guidelines to make sure the playset is safe so play time is fun. And if you notice that your playset has become worn out or needs to be updated to keep up with your growing kids, our website has a variety of offerings from Play N’ Learn Play Systems and Woodplay.

How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

May 10th, 2012 by

Be sure to monitor your child's exercise.Exercise is a hugely important part of life for your children — it keeps them healthy, entertained, and occupied, and it helps promote good habits for the rest of their lives. However, there is such a thing as too much exercise, and though it’s important to make sure your child is exercising, it’s also important to make sure they aren’t overexerting themselves. Here’s how to make sure your child is getting the right amount of physical activity.

Listen to your child. Children understand their physical needs more intuitively than adults do, which means that when their bodies are tired, they will often signal it. If your child says he or she is tired and needs to rest, let them take a break until they’re ready to get moving again.

Make sure they can rest while playing sports. Most of the time, children won’t have a problem taking a break while playing recreationally in the backyard or on a playset, but competitive sports are more likely to push them farther than they are able to go physically. So when your child is playing sports, make sure they have a way to take a break during the game, whether that’s a halftime intermission or substitutes available to switch in and out, and have water for your child to drink.

Don’t work out every day. Children should be careful not to play sports every day; recommendations prescribe a maximum of five days of sporting activity a week, with one day off from any sort of strenuous physical activity.

Beware of injuries. If your child indicates that part of his or her body hurts or that they are feeling overworked, make sure to take heed of that and give them time to rest until they start feeling better. Overuse injuries are a particular concern for children, because with their bodies still growing, they are more susceptible to strain than an adult is.

Remember to prioritize exercise over competition. It’s fine for children to want to win in games they compete in, but only so much as they want to win, and as long as they realize that it’s more about playing the game than winning. What becomes problematic is when adults pressure children into prioritizing winning over having fun and staying healthy; this can lead to children pushing themselves beyond their natural limitations, and ultimately lead to injuries.

No life is complete without a healthy amount of exercise, and especially with children, you want to make sure they are forming habits that they can keep for the rest of their lives. Just keep these factors in mind, and your child will learn to love and value physical activity.

Surround Your Playsets with Rubber Mulch

May 8th, 2012 by

Rubber mulchWe all remember the playgrounds from our youth; they were usually built on hard dirt with little or no grass. Taking a tumble wasn’t very pleasant. Today, playgrounds are surrounded by material that’s designed to provide soft landings for energetic children.

Over the years a variety of fill materials have become popular, including wood mulch, sand, and fine gravel. However, rubber mulch is quickly becoming the most commonly used fill material. You may have noticed rubber mulch on local playgrounds and at daycare centers, where ensuring the safety of children is the highest priority.

Here are a few tips to remember when purchasing rubber mulch to surround your playset:

  • For the mulch to provide the proper cushioning, it should be at least six inches deep and totally surround the playset area.
  • Before the playset can be installed, a base must be dug to accommodate the rubber mulch. Once that step has been completed, a liner should be put down.
  • The best type of liner is a geotextile fabric barrier –a fancy term for a lining that prevents plant growth but allows moisture to drain. Do-it-yourselfers can purchase the material from landscape companies.

The most obvious benefit of rubber mulch is safety, but there are a variety of other reasons to consider this fill material:

  • Soft – rubber mulch is soft and cushions falls, which reduces the possibilities of injuries.
  • Durable – unlike wood mulch, rubber mulch can last up to 10 years before it needs to be replaced.
  • Color – available in a variety of colors, rubber mulch doesn’t fade and makes your play area brighter and more appealing.
  • Recyclable – most rubber mulch is created by recycling old tires, which means it helps the environment while protecting little tykes.
  • Bugs be Gone – bugs and burrowing rodents aren’t big fans of rubber mulch, they prefer the natural wood mulch.
  • Maintenance – the only maintenance you’ll have to perform is raking out the mulch so that it covers the ground evenly. Leaves and grass that blow onto the mulch can be easily removed.
  • No Slips or Slides – after a rainstorm or when snow is melting, wood mulch can absorb moisture and become slippery. Rubber mulch sheds water, which drains naturally.

With rubber mulch, all of your children’s landings will be safe and happy.

Activities You and Your Child Can Do Together

May 3rd, 2012 by

Activities you can do with your child.As much fun as it is for your child or children to enjoy a playset or trampoline on their own, sometimes they—and you—would be much happier if you can also participate. Not every activity is appropriate for both ages to enjoy, but there are more than enough different things that you and your child can do together to keep both of you entertained through the summer and beyond.

Using the swings. The swings are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to spend time with your child; just push him or her back and forth, and all of a sudden you have a convenient chance to talk, a way to make sure they stay safe, and a fun activity to share. Even children who can swing by themselves will often prefer it if you push them, as it makes the activity seem like a ride at an amusement park.

Climbing and monkey bars. Some of the aspects of the playset that are a little more difficult, such as using the monkey bars, require help from the adult for younger children, so they would certainly much appreciate your involvement. This gives you a good opportunity to not only help build your child’s strength, but also to teach them about movement and terrain in a new and exciting way.

Pretend play. A playset creates a new landscape for children in the yard, something that isn’t like their house or the rest of their world, and that makes for a perfect opportunity for them to use their imagination. What makes this type of experience even more powerful is if you allow them to welcome you into their world and participate fully; this makes the power of their imagination seem even greater.

The trampoline. Adult supervision is always a positive with regard to using the trampoline, and though more than one person shouldn’t use a trampoline at once, standing by and overseeing your child’s play will give them the chance to impress you with their skills and you the chance to make sure they are safe and enjoying themselves.

Exploration. Like with pretend play, exploration is a fantastic way to let your child take the lead and guide you for a change. Have them show you around the playset and say why each part is interesting to them, what they enjoy doing there, and how they like to play. Your child will feel empowered and get to exercise his/her creativity.

There are countless other ways to enjoy your playset with your child; part of the fun is discovering them yourself, so get playing! If you want to test out any of these fun parent-child activities, be sure to check out our Free Open Play Days and our Play Anytime option  at our Columbia location!