Does Your Child Know Hidden Rules of the Playground?

Does Your Child Know Hidden Rules of the Playground?

Teaching “Dos and Don’ts” of the Playground

Spring brings warmer weather for most of us. That means outside time for kiddos! However, school play areas and seemingly beautiful parks can be a source of tremendous anxiety for kids and parents alike. Not only because of the physical demands and dangers of the equipment but because children may not know the “Hidden Rules” of the playground.

Some “hidden rules” on the playground include:

  • Wait your turn to go down the slide.
  • Do not walk in front of swings while someone is swinging.
  • Never push a friend off of a toy you want to try.
  • Do not throw sand in the sandbox.

While these rules may be obvious for many, they can be broken by children who have social and developmental delays. They often lack the understanding of the unspoken rules that must be followed in order to stay on the playground. Sharing space with others requires knowledge of the unspoken rules that are not in any handbook.

In the Social Butterflies Club program, these rules for the playground are reviewed. Here is an example:

  • Younger children give an example of their favorite thing to do on the playground.
  • For example, if a child names the “slide” as a favorite, we list DOs and DON’Ts for the “slide” on the whiteboard.
  • The group then looks at the “DOs and DON’Ts of the Playground” to review some specific examples.
  • Actual photographs instead of illustrations are used to help children make the connection and generalize.
  • Our older kids will brainstorm the DOs and DON’Ts before we look at the “DOs and DON’Ts of the Playground” activity.

Parents are encouraged to talk about the rules of the playground before they take their child to the playground. Here are some tips parents can use:

  • Keep the rules simple and clear for younger children.
  • Practice at a smaller park or playground or during less crowded times.
  • Take pictures with the camera on your phone. Look at each picture with your child and talk about the rules for each.

Using these simple strategies can make the playground a source of fun and important play development time for children of all abilities!

Find more information about the Social Butterflies Club® here.

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