There was a time in the not-so-distant past when people automatically preferred outdoor playgrounds to indoor ones. Unfortunately, circumstances like climate change, concern over public safety and privacy, and other issues have polarized those who want to confine play time indoors, and those who believe al fresco is still the best way to play.
If you’re sitting on the fence about what kind of playground you want to bring your kids to, think about the following factors, and weigh their relative merits and disadvantages.
Weather and Other Natural Considerations
An indoor playground is usually a good pick when it’s too hot or cold to be outdoors and the kids want to play. Schools and child care centers need to assess if the weather can cause hypothermia or heat stroke, and have an alternative plan for playtime in lieu of outdoor playground equipment. Springtime can also bring hay fever, so best to check natural conditions against your kids’ special needs (allergens, asthma triggers, etc.) before letting them out to play.
Location, Location, Location
Is your playground in a safe part of town? Are their pollutants in the air? Are strangers always lurking in the vicinity? No matter how attractive a playground may be, its location should be big safety and privacy factor. If you feel that an indoor playground is safer for your kids, do your homework first to see if it is well-guarded, situated away from dangerous structures, and meets playground safety standards. Being indoors doesn’t necessarily mean being safer, because it can attract bad people and accidents, too.
There are toddler playgrounds, “big kid” playgrounds, and even adult playgrounds. Take your kids to one where they won’t have any problem using the equipment because they are of the correct height and design. Never leave a child alone in a playground no matter how safe the equipment may seem - kids can and will hurt themselves when unsupervised.
Imagination, Exercise, or Both?
With electronic gadgets vying for your kids’ time and attention, getting them to play the old-fashioned way has become a huge challenge. Kids will argue that video games stimulate the mind, but you can argue in turn that playgrounds can do both. For instance, the Imagination Playground in Brooklyn features a bronze statue of a dragon that seems to be coming right out of a book. Water flows along the dragon’s back, encouraging kids and adults alike to make up stories around it while enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors.
Safety: Always the Bottomline
Beyond location and convenience, safety must always be the first consideration for any playground your kids will use. Always check first if the playground surface will cushion any fall, if the equipment is intact and won’t snag clothes, if the temperature (whether it’s indoors or outdoors) is just right, and if the location is a safe one.
Resources: http://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/things-to-do/25-best-playgrounds-in-new-york-city https://www.visitestonia.com/en/things-to-see-do/active-holiday/playgrounds-for-children http://www.peacefulplaygrounds.com/school-recess-when-is-it-too-cold-to-go-out-to-recess/