Something you might or might not know about me is that I worked for 12 twelve years to get a playground in my local community. When I started, in my innocence I thought all we would need was a swing & a slide and we’d be sorted.
In the beginning it was really frustrating when road block after road block was put in our way but now looking back I am so grateful that we didn’t get to put in a playground 13 years ago. The playground in Adare is now one with an All-Abilities ethos, where children of varying physical and intellectual abilities can play alongside each other and is recognised as one of the best in Ireland.
Lots of children, not just those with learning and attention issues, may have trouble with playground social rules and equipment. Here are 4 common playground issues and how to help your child deal with them. Watch out for our future blog post, where I will share 4 more with you.
#1 Using the Playground Equipment
Children with motor skills issues, such as dyspraxia, may find it more difficult to use playground equipment. Climbing frames, zip wires, swinging and even sliding require being able to coordinate many different body movements.
How to help: Practice when the playground is quite – early morning at weekends is good. Your child may feel less self-conscious when other kids aren’t around. You can help her break down the steps and practice doing the things she likes best.
#2 Playing with Other Children
Being at the Playground isn’t just about having a goodtime – it is also a great place for developing good social skills. This includes sharing, taking turns and joining conversations. Your child may not be sure how to start a conversation or how to ask to join a game. He may not understand when other kids are inviting him to play with them. This can make it hard to develop friendships.
How to help: Practice what your child can say to other kids. “Hi, I’m Seán. What’s your name?” and “Do you want to play on the swings with me?” You can also help your child figure out when it’s ok to join a playground game without specifically asking, though sharing or parallel play.
In Ireland we love to tease but it is usually good-natured and fun. The playground is a place where teasing takes place. Most of it is just joking around, but sometimes it can be mean. All children, not just those with learning and attention issues can have a hard time telling the difference between the two.
How to help: Explain the difference between teasing and friendly joking. Show your child the body language, tone of voice and facial expressions that go with each. You can also help your child practice things to say when she isteased. For example, “I didn’t like that,” or “That hurt my feelings.”
#4 Following Directions & Taking Turns
The playground is a great place to learn how to share, take turns and communicate with others. Whether they’re playing an organized game or waiting their turn, this can be hard for children with learning and attention issues. That’s because paying attention, understanding social cuesand processing information can be difficult for them.
How to help: Practice taking turns and sharing, using the language your child needs to know, such as “my turn,” “your turn” or even “listen to me!” Let your child know it’s ok to ask a friend or a parent to clarify and break rules down into steps.